BELLEVILLE - A world of opportunity awaits newlyweds Francis and Leah Daytec as they begin their lives together as missionaries in the Philippines.
Francis, a doctor, and Leah a midwife, the couple are brimming with ideas to bring Christ's love and healing to Francis native land.
Leah Daytec, formerly Leah Botteicher of Belleville, said she knew God was calling her to missions during her senior year in high school.
After she graduated, Leah Daytec said she joined Youth With A Mission, or YWAM, and spent three months working in India.
When she returned home, she said she again felt God calling her - this time to become a midwife. She attended school in Boise, Idaho, and later traveled Manila, the Philippines capital. While working among the poor in the city slums, Leah recalled that she became very ill with typhoid fever.
Yet, the woman said she refused to leave the mission field. Instead, her family traveled to the Philippines to be with her during her time of affliction.
During her work in Manila, she said she met her future husband.
While he was born into a Christian community, Francis Daytec said he never had a personal relationship with God. When he met his future wife, she invited him to church, he remembered.
"A year before that I bought a Bible but never opened it," the doctor remembered. "I was very independent, proud. I thought I was everything I was because of my own efforts."
Even after Leah returned to the states to finish her education, "I got interested and began to go to church without her inviting me," Francis Daytec said.
Leah Daytec said she also introduced Francis to the slums of Manila, an atmosphere that he had never experienced in his rural clinics.
The two were friends for three years before their relationship developed into something more, they said.
When Leah returned to the Philippines after graduation, "God made it clear to us that he could use us together," Leah Daytec said. The couple were married in July.
At the end of this month, the couple plan to begin their mission work at Francis's two rural health clinics on the island of Oriental Mindoro, which he began eight years ago.
One of the clinics is located in Sabang, a well-known tourist spot with a red light district (prostitution), Leah Daytec said.
"Pastors call it the modern day Sodom and Gomorrah," Leah Daytec said. "We want to start a refuge there to get women and children out of the sex slave industry."
Daytec's clinic charges tourists for care but offers free services to the poor, she said.
Many poor patients come from the Mangyan tribes, who are indigenous to the island, Francis Daytec explained. Lately, the government has begun to encourage the nomadic tribes to stay in one place, he said. Because they are not used to permanent communities, they do not have proper sanitation methods, he said.
The couple plan to partner with a Philippine organization to provide health education to the Mangyan people, he said. While the outreach is important, Francis said they also plan to educate people from the tribes to become health workers.
"We teach them primary health care so they can become independent," Francis Daytec said.
Some tribes are five hours away from a doctor, Leah Daytec said. The Philippine government has asked health workers to teach Mangyans to be midwives and health workers for their own people, she said.
"We don't just do stuff for them, we teach them how," Leah Daytec said.
The second clinic is located in San Isidro, where poor Mangyan women often come to give birth, Leah Daytec said.
Someday, the clinics will become a non-profit organization, but for now the Daytecs operate through the Medical Embassadors Philippines, she said.
"Our ministry model is Jesus Christ. He ministers to the whole person, physically, emotionally and spiritually," Leah Daytec said. "We should never separate the physical person from the spiritual. We help to fix the broken bodies and show them the one who can heal their hearts."
"Everything we do comes out of worship," she said, noting that worship, not missions, is their desire.
The couple is raising their own support for their mission work as well as medical care and supplies for the poor, Leah Daytec said. Among their other plans, the couple also have a piece of land where they plan to build a women's refuge center, she said.
"We understand that not everyone can give monetary support," Leah Daytec said. "If God leads you to support us, either by joining us on the field, getting on your knees for us, encouraging us or by financial giving, know that we are incredibly humbled, honored and grateful."
The Daytecs said they also are eager to assist others in their pursuits of God's work and offer their ministry as places for short-term missions trips or mission-shadowing.
For more information about the Daytecs, visit francisandleah.weebly.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations may be sent to Francis and Leah Daytec, c/o Kish Valley Grace Brethren Church, 99 Taylor Drive, Reedsville PA 17084.