Lesley-Anna Tosh volunteers with ‘Helping Hands, Healing Hearts’ in the Philippines

Lesley-Anna Tosh reports on her 4 week mission trip to serve with ‘Helping Hands, Healing Hearts’ in the Philippines.

Young musician and music tutor, Lesley-Anna Tosh, got a first-hand insight into overseas mission work during a recent expedition to the Philippines. The 22-year-old travelled to Asia to serve God with ‘Helping Hands, Healing Hearts’, an organisation founded by Northern Ireland’s own Claire Henderson.

Lesley-Anna Tosh volunteers with 'Helping Hands, Healing Hearts' in the Philippines

Lesley-Anna remarked: “It says in the Bible that we are to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ and that verse has always been on my heart. I have always wanted to go out into the world and put that verse into practice and in recent years, ‘Helping Hands’ has been an organisation that God has etched on my heart. I have just been waiting on His timing for me to go.”

Lesley-Anna was involved in lots of activities over the 4 weeks in the Philippines.

Throughout her four-week stay, Lesley-Anna was blessed with the opportunity to volunteer at both the HHM Children’s Home and Children’s Recovery Unit. This is a place were vulnerable children and young people can receive the medical help they need. For the first fortnight, Lesley-Anna worked alongside a team of young adults from Belfast. When they returned home, she served in the company of local workers. Her base was in a city called Baguio, which is in the North of the Philippines.

Lesley-Anna Tosh volunteers with 'Helping Hands, Healing Hearts' in the Philippines

“For the first two weeks, we ran a Vacation Bible School, where the kids came to us for days filled with fun and learning. They absolutely relished getting to sing, dance, do crafts and learn Bible Stories. We also took them on day trips to the park and to McDonald’s, which they absolutely loved. In the Philippines you have rice even when you eat at McDonalds! We also took the youth on a three-day residential retreat to a luxurious resort which was fully funded by an American family who are also serving at Helping Hands this summer. The teenagers loved the chance to get away and do something different and to get quality time with us.”

“When I was there myself, I taught piano to the kids. I didn’t know there was going to be access to a piano, but one was brought up and the children loved that. I was supposed to have 8 to 10 kids each day, but I ended up having 18 to 20 because they all were so eager to learn. The smiles on their faces made me so so happy and they are all so musical. I also got to take them out on other day trips for activities such as hiking or the cinema. I really enjoyed spending quality time with them, even if it was just chilling on the sofa. They loved cuddles, hugs and getting a little extra attention.”

Lesley-Anna Tosh volunteers with 'Helping Hands, Healing Hearts' in the Philippines

Lesley-Anna says she was ‘profoundly changed by the experience’.

Lesley-Anna says that there is not a single minute of the trip that she didn’t enjoy although she admits to being profoundly changed by the experience. The Ballyclare girl added: “I went over to the Philippines with the aim of helping them and providing love and care to the children. In the end, I took away more from the trip than I was able to give to people there. I think in our Western culture we can be stuck in the mindset of ‘why did God let us go through this difficult time? At Helping Hands, they take the view that yes there are difficult times, but God is always with them through these times and He is a faithful God. A song that we sang while I was there was ‘Goodness of God’ by Bethel. The words say: ‘all my life you have been faithful, all my life you have been so, so good, with every breath that I am able, I will sing of the goodness of God’. The kids sing that out with such passion and faith in our amazing God. They always have a smile on their face and they are the happiest people I have ever met even though many of them have had incredibly difficult lives. Some of the kids have grown up living in a cornfield or in a tomb in the middle of a graveyard yet they still sing of how faithful our God is. One thing I have taken away with me is that no matter what, God is a faithful God and we must be so thankful for everything that we have.”

Lesley-Anna asks that we pray for the work and witness of Helping Hands, Healing Hearts.

In closing, Lesley-Anna requests prayer for the children at Helping Hands, Healing Hearts, adding: “Many of the kids are extremely ill and need prayer. Pray that God will heal them and perform miracles in their lives. For the children in the Children’s Home, please pray for the kids and for their forever families – the family that will one day adopt them. Pray for the staff at Helping Hands as they continue to do amazing work and act as such an incredible witness to the children and families they encounter.”

To discover more about the work of Helping Hands, Healing Hearts, log on to their website here. You can also find them on Facebook here.