Testimony at Church

Hubby and I had the opportunity to give our testimony about the Philippines at church yesterday. Our church is small. Like 25-30 people. I really did not expect God to use us to sponsor more children… most of our church members are sponsors already. Actually, it’s because of them that I got to go on this sponsor tour. (Story for later.)

But God is able to do more than we expect. He stirred the hearts of my sisters and brothers at church and six more children were sponsored. Many from the very center that I visited.

The packets arriving in time was a God thing too. They came on Saturday, the day before our presentation. WOO HOO.

Philippines – day 2

On Tuesday we headed to the first child development center.

The bus driver was uh-may-zing. We drove for what seemed like 2 hours and most of that on this narrow two way street that seemed like a main road but was narrower than a residential street in the US. We were inches away from vendors, the oncoming traffic, tricycle taxis, etc… but we never hit a thing! It took some time for us to get used to this way of driving. =)

Being greeted by the children when we arrived at the center was a surreal experience. They formed a tunnel and each had a leigh to put around our necks.

We sang praise together and they performed a couple of dances. I almost lost it during the praise time but I told myself that it’s only the first day, hold it together! One LDP student gave us his testimony.

The kids were fun and outgoing. They all had big smiles on their faces… at least all the Compassion children did.  There was a boy, I still remember, who looked either sad or like he had a chip on his shoulder. He wasn’t a Compassion child (he wasn’t wearing that blue t-shirt in the photo.) Maybe he was wishing that he was a sponsor child too?  I don’t know…

This is one of the classrooms that was upstairs:

The room was also the dining area and that’s where the mothers were preparing the food for our lunch.  We ate lunch together with the children. I felt really bad because we got at least three other dishes along with our soup and rice but the children got only soup and rice. I thought about offering them some of the food off my plate but that seemed like an awkward thing to do.  They were probably just wanting to do they best to serve us since we were guests from oversees. They treated us like celebrities… wanting to take photos with us, giving us special food, giving us a tour of the building, and all the children were vying for our attention.

After lunch, we separated into smaller groups of four and visited some of the children’s houses. My group visited Abegail’s house. The home we visited was so tiny! It was no bigger than our bedroom and probably the size of a kind size bed. Six members lived there. Four kids, two parents. The kids slept on this wooden “bed” (looked like a futon frame) and the parents slept on the concrete floor. In the back yard, there was an outdoor kitchen (basically one coal-burning fire pit like device to cook over). The bathroom was also in the back yard. There was a small closet-like room that with a tarp door and I assumed that was where the toilet was.

We asked the mother about the sponsor and she showed us the letters. They were great letters! Very encouraging. Towards the end of the visit, the father came home from work and we all prayed together. When we were done praying, the father had tears in his eyes.

I think it’d be one thing to experience poverty myself but I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have enough to feed my kids or send them to school. How would I feel as a father or mother who couldn’t provide for his or her kids? Would I feel a sense of shame mixed with thankfulness when meeting “sponsors” who do for my child what I cannot do? I tried to imagine what the father must have been thinking to cry like that in front of us.

Back at the center, I met these two girls who were 15. Melinda and her best friend. They both were planning to go to college. One of them wanted to be an accountant, the other a chemistry teacher. They taught me the word for beautiful in Tagalog (ta-GA-log). Ma-gan-da. We kept saying the word over and over again and laughing. They also tried to make each other sing for me. They kept saying “sam po! sam po!” One of the girls explained later on that it was from “example.”  Cute huh?

When it was time to say good-bye, the children followed us to the bus and kept waving until we left. Here’s a picture of them from the bus.

A Small Act

Just finished watching this awesome documentary on HBO On Demand. My intentions for watching this was not ideal. I mainly wanted to distract myself from emotional pain. Despite my impure intentions, I really enjoyed this film.

It’s about a Kenyan boy who was sponsored by a Swedish woman to help him continue his education. He ended up going to university and then to Harvard for a masters. Currently he works for the UN. The woman, it turns out, is a Holocaust Survivor and has no husband or children. They meet for the first time when she is like 80. The boy, now a man, starts a foundation to help kids who were like him. The documentary shows three children who strive to get the scholarship offered by that foundation. One is accepted, but the other two are later sponsored by the producers of the documentary.

I love love love this story. The woman only paid like $15 per month to sponsor this child. She actually couldn’t even remember how much she paid… it was so long ago and also it shows me what an insignificant thing our money becomes as we grow older.

Anyway, I just wanted to share it with you. I hope it brings you hope and encourages you to do ONE small act today.

Philippines – day 1

I came back from a 10 day trip to the Philippines last week. It was a sponsor tour where people who sponsor kids through Compassion International get to meet their sponsor kids and also learn more about what Compassion does to combat poverty.

On the first day in the Philippines, we got a tour of the Compassion Philippines office and got to know our group members better by spending time with them. Patty was our country host and accompanied us everywhere. There are about 80 staff in the Philippines office and they are constantly growing. Their office was quite nice and a lot of the staff had manga figurines in their cubicles. =)

We got a detailed tour of the office. They answered all of our questions and showed us some of the documentation that goes into each child. Apparently, if you are a child sponsored through Compassion, you are one of the most documented children of the third world. =) All of the sponsor letters get sorted and translated at the office. All of the gifts, etc, are triaged here too.

The director was a cool dude named Noel. He was very knowledgeable and told us that sex trafficking was rampant in the Philippines and sadly, some of them even target Compassion girls because they are virgins. Philippines is also the second most corrupt country and it’s hard to pursue legal action but they are working with International Justice Mission to get some justice. He used to work for the private sector but him and his wife realized that they were enjoying the weekends more and more when they got to do God-related stuff. He quit his job and with the help of his wife who urged him to apply for the position, got the director position.

The highlight of the tour was when one of the tour members fainted. She was so overwhelmed by the the Holy Spirit. Just kidding… actually she was dehydrated. We were standing for a long time. She drank a whole bunch of water and she got all better.

After the tour, we had lunch with some of the staff members. I sat next to a woman who graduated from the Leadership Development Program (LDP) and is a pharmacist but is working at Compassion for a while until she takes her test and gets a pharmacist job. She was quiet and soft spoken. =)

After lunch, we got a quick tour of the local mall (mega mall) and exchanged our money. The mall was really big but we didn’t have much time to look around.

One of the persons that stood out to me and my husband was Nellie. She was, at 78, the oldest person in our group. But she did NOT slow us down at all. She was so fit. Also, she was very inspiring. This was her 5th sponsor tour and she has sponsored 12 kids. She currently sponsors 6. She is retired from working at Walt Disney World in food services. She told us that she prayed for my husband (he shared with the group some prayer requests before the trip) and that was so sweet. She also sat next to us on the plane ride. I don’t think I heard her complain one time during the whole trip. What an amazing lady. I want to be like her when I grow up.

I would put a picture here but right now, I’m not sure if I want this blog to be anonymous or not. So… yeah.

Hello world!

I’m excited to start this blog!  I plan to first write about my experience in the Philippines and then share my daily/weekly adventures as they occur… or perhaps after a short bit of reflection.