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Filipino Fervour
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By Mary Haskett

On a given Saturday evening the Verceles family home in the White Oaks area is filled with people bringing dishes of Filipino food, and greeting each other with smiles and chit-chat. After the food has been consumed, there’s an air of expectancy as a smiling Onesimus (Oni) and his son Albiz bring out their guitars and lead the group in praise and worship songs. The evening concludes with a Bible study presented by Pastor Junior Sorzano, and sometimes others.

In 2003 the Verceles family was content with their life in the Philippines. Oni, an "academic" had won a scholarship to the University of the Philippines in his youth, and graduated with a degree in Environmental Sciences. He then obtained employment in the Government's Department of Natural Resources. Linda held a senior position in a bank.

Circumstances changed when the bank Linda worked for foreclosed. Linda had to deal with worried customers, and both she and her husband had to face the fact there would only be one income. Their son and daughter were already in the Nursing Program at the university, but finances did not permit their continuance there.

Sharing their situation with Oni's sister, who lived in Canada, options were considered. They decided that first; Linda would apply for work in Canada, with the family to follow at a later date. And spurred on by the promise of a job, plus a signed contract, she arrived in Toronto on September 22nd 2004. Her work in a private home proved to be a disaster. The employer refused to pay Linda a salary, telling her she would have to work for seven months in order to pay back her airfare.

Discouraged by the situation Linda made many phone calls to her husband. He encouraged her to pray and believe that God would open the door for her and change the circumstances. Later she secured another job where the situation proved to be just as disappointing. Her employer paid her small wages and expected her to work from eight in the morning until eleven at night—and sometimes beyond. She experienced a similar situation with yet another employer. However prayers were finally answered. A kind and considerate couple employed her to look after their children and take care of the house work. These employers appreciated Linda's work ethic, and to this day she still works for them part time.

During the difficult period Linda attended church with her sister-in-law. Many times the pastor reminded the congregation to pray not only for Linda's frustrating scenario, but also for the admittance of her husband and children into Canada, and again the answer came after almost five years of waiting. Her husband and children arrived in July 2009.

Challenges still faced them, but the families trust in God sustained them. For several months Oni worked in his neighbourhood doing odd jobs, then secured a temporary position in a factory. Today he works full time at the Military Power House in London. After weighing the family options, Linda and their two children applied to Fanshawe College where they completed the Food Service Program, which ultimately secured permanent jobs for all three in Long Term Care Facilities.

When asked how the Bible studies started, Oni explained the Filipino community was already coming to the Verceles home for the suppers, when someone suggested they should end each gathering with a Bible study. As Oni said members of the group attend different churches, but, he added, "It's a great way for the Filipino community to fellowship and worship God together".






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