Another letter

I got a letter from Rizel that she wrote a couple of weeks after the flood. She wrote it as a response to a letter I wrote and there is no mention at all of the flood. This makes me hopeful that nothing too terrible has happened. And for that I am grateful.

My next thought was.. if she wasn’t all that impacted, why the alarming e-mail from Compassion? But the fact of the matter is, I really don’t know what happened. I shouldn’t speculate.

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“Directly impacted.”

I got an e-mail from Compassion saying that my sponsored child, the one I met two years ago in the Philippines, was directly impacted by the December floods. I got it a while ago. I know that I can get more detailed information if I call the office… but I don’t seem to be able to pick up the phone. I am not sure why. Am I afraid of bad news? Yes, maybe. She probably is still alive, I hope Compassion would have called me if she died… but possibly her family may have been impacted… or their home may have been destroyed.

I sent a family gift and also donated to Compassions’ Disaster Relief Fund. I hope she gets the $ soon. I know it can take months for them to receive family gifts.

Hired

Husband got a job! Yay! I’m really amazed at how God orchestrated all of this. Mostly a calm time for me and hubs definitely seemed to have learned some lessons. I should write letters to our sponsor kids so they know!  =) And since the new Compassion letter writing thing is SO AWESOME, I am sure I will be way more motivated to write my sponsor kids. You can attach electronic pictures! Yay! I felt guilty for not sending enough pics before. And there are cute stationary I can pick from… so cool.

Got three (THREE!) letters from our boy sponsee John Carlos today. He lives in the Philippines and he is trying to get into the University of Philippines which is the top university. I hope he can achieve his dreams.. but that he doesn’t get discouraged if he doesn’t get in.

Oh, big news. We moved churches. More about that later.

Sponsee letter

Today, I got the most gut-wrenching letter from my sponsor child. She told me the story of how her father became disabled. I had asked her in my previous letter because she mentioned that her father is disabled.

(Warning, this is not for the queasy.)

 

 

Long story short, he was working as a logger for a big company when he got attacked by a terrorist/guerilla group. Him, along with all the other corpses, were found four days after the attack. They were working at a remote place. When he was found, they thought he was dead. All the others were dead. He had kept himself alive by drinking the blood pouring out of the dead bodies.

He was treated for his wounds but he remains disabled by the gun shots. He self medicates with alcohol.

I read a book recently, a novel, that talks about cannibalism. I didn’t know what to do with the information. I think, somehow, it prepared me to read this information from my sponsor child’s letter. How strange that a similar scene would unfold before me as a real story.

I had an urge to send a family gift today, before I got the letter, because I know her mother suffers from asthma. I asked for the gift to be spend for mom’s medication and school supplies. It was strange to get her letter, and to hear her mention a recent severe attack that her mom had. I hope the money gets to her in time before another severe attack. My son has mild asthma. It’s a helpless feeling, to know that a human being, your beloved, is not able to get enough oxygen and struggling to breath.

 

God, let me be a light, in this dark world. Let me be an instrument of your hope.

Philippines – Day 5 (part 1)

On day five, we got to see a CDC in action. Even though it was Friday, and the center normally has programs on Saturdays, the teachers got permission from each and every student to skip school that day so that they could show us, the visitors, what a typical program day looked like. It was a rainy day… POURing actually. I think I got soaked trying to go to the bathroom a couple of times but this stands out to me as one of the best days.

The community was located in the outskirts of Manila and there was a LOT of traffic to get there… we had to climb a small mountain to get there, with lots of windy roads.

When we got there, the children welcomed us with their bigs smiles. We felt like celebrities… they were all standing in rows outside of the center and we passed them all as we walked into the church.

We split up into groups of four and went into different class rooms. The class I got to sit in was third graders. They were SO cute. Boys sat on one side and the girls sat on the other. Teacher Gina was their teacher. She taught them about vegetables and taught them English words. Another teacher told the kids a Bible story. Suellen had brought a craft activity so the kids made the crafts. There were no tables in the classroom so when the time came to do the crafts, the kids had to squat on the floor and use their chairs as tables.

There weren’t enough bottles of glue so the teacher had to pour some onto cardboard and the kids had to share even that. There weren’t enough scissors, so they had to take turns cutting, and there wasn’t enough string for the “hair” so the kids had to get one string each… yet, they were so happy and shared all the supplies so well. There was not much hogging or fussing over the materials.

When teacher Gina was starting the class, she was telling the kids what they were going to do that day and all of a sudden, she got all choked up and couldn’t talk. She turned around, wiped her eyes, and told us how the kids were SO excited for this day. How they were so happy that the visitors were here… and how they had been so excited as they prepared. I could see how much she loved the kids. She quickly composed herself and went on with the lesson. It was a brief moment, but one that is still very vivid in my mind.

One of the great things that Compassion does is that it provides jobs for many people in the community, in addition to helping the kids. Sure, a lot of the work of the centers get done by volunteers… but they also hire health workers and teachers, and case workers, to do all of the administrative tasks and documentation that is needed for the program.

At this center, I met Joyce, Abigail, and Jonah. They seemed like good friends and all kind of were fighting for my attention. They were so alive and vibrant… Joyce is the one to my right in the picture.

After the class, we gathered as a group, ate lunch, and had some other activities. At the end, we took pictures and I left my water bottle and an untouched can of coke where I sat with them… when we were finished taking the pictures, Joyce brought the unopened can of coke and the water bottle with the bit of water left, and handed them to me shyly. She could have easily taken that can but she knew that the cokes were for the visitors and she brought it to me. What a sweet-heart!!!!!!! The girl next to Joyce is Jonah, she is the pastor’s daughter.

I taught them how to make the pink shirt and afterwards, they gave them all to me… I think the teacher told them to… and they all gave me the “face” they made during craft time too. They were supposed to all be the smiling faces of the Compassion children. I was so overwhelmed when all the children came up to me and gave me their craft faces. They all had messages on the back too. Some of the children were great writers and wrote very sweet notes, thanking the sponsors and expressing their gratitude.

During the class time, this girl caught my eye.

I think her name is Abigail. Anyway, she turned her head JUST when I was taking the picture… and for like the WHOLE time beforehand, she was paying the CLOSEST attention to the teacher and sat SO still in her chair. She was glued to the teacher’s face and didn’t seem the least bit distracted. She was so beautiful. Maybe it was her huge eyes, but my attention kept being drawn to her. She was very shy, never coming up to me once… but I still remember her.

It was hard to leave this center… we spent several hours with one class of kids and I kind of got attached to them. This community was the lowest income of all the places we visit. Average income is just $23 per month. I can’t even imagine…

We ate awesome lumpia at this center. I think volunteer moms made them all for us. They made them in an outdoor kitchen, with oil in woks, over coal stoves. They must have slaved all morning to make those. The children LOVED the lumpia. I loved it too. I must have eaten 10 of them. =)

I also got to taste a really sour fruit called santol. It was SUPER sour in certain parts.. but other parts were sweet. The kids thought it was the most hilarious thing, to watch me try the santol. hahhahaah

After the visit, we went back to the hotel and had dinner with the Leadership Development Students… to be continued.

update

Last night, I had a small letter writing party. A friend and I sat at the table, after we filled our tummies with spaghetti, and wrote letters. She just recently started sponsoring a girl from the Philippines… from one of the child development centers that we visited on the trip!  I thought that I could recognize her face… but I could not be sure.

I got out my box of Korean stationary. I wrote a letter to one of the other sponsors that we met during the trip, and a letter to our sponsor child in Ecuador. I still need to write to our new sponsored child John. We just got a letter from him that was so super sweet. He considers himself a prayer warrier. How amazing to hear that from him. He said that he stopped school but that he plans to return. He wants to be a pastor!

I am excited about a craft fair that I’ll be participating in next week. I’ll be selling my jewelry and hope to raise a lot of money for Compassion children. =)

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Day.

Philippines – Day 4

Day four’s theme was “A Day in the Life of a Sponsor Child and Their Family.”

After we got to the center, we got grouped into groups of 4-5 and we went to visit some of the children’s homes. I went to visit Chrizel and Christian’s home that was a few minutes away from the church. A brother and sister were sponsored and the family also had two other children who were not sponsored. The dad worked as a tricycle driver, and the mom worked at home by selling things at a little store they set up in the living room (through the wire windows) and doing other odd jobs like laundry. She also bought a big sack of coal, divided them into smaller bags, and sold them. She made one dollar from doing that. She also gets like 200 little pieces of bread and sells them for like 1 cent each through the window.

As soon as we got to her house, she brought out soft drinks for us… as well as some fried fish. The kids were getting ready to go to school. The local elementary school has SO many kids… that they divide all the kids into two shifts, morning and afternoon. There isn’t any space for all the kids to go to school at the same time. Chrizel and Christian go to school in the afternoon. Preson, Nelly, and Jillian were in my group. We all sat around in the living room and the mom turned the t.v. on for us. It was a little awkward cuz we didn’t really know what to do. We asked about their sponsors and they brought out some pictures and letters to show us. The TV was really really distracting… so I turned it off when the mom went into the kitchen to do her coal work. All the neighborhood kids came to the house to look at us visitors. =)

This was the first day that I heard Jillian sing. She has an awesome voice! She sang with the kids and led them with some hand motions. It was cool!

After a little bit at the house, we went back to the center and they gave us a tour. The center was three stories high. Here is a picture of a bathroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During lunch I sat next to Victoria. She currently goes to college and has had the same sponsor for ten years. TEN YEARS. BUT… it was super duper sad because she has never received a letter from her sponsor. She doesn’t even know what her sponsor looks like. She looked SO SAD when she was telling me this. I was heartbroken for her. Later, I found out that I could write her a letter and that the Philippines Compassion staff would make sure that it got to her so I plan to write to her very soon. Here is a picture of me with Victoria on the right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the CDC, we got to go to a local high school. Some of us took the jeepney there, and some of us took a tricycle. I got to ride on both (one on the ride there, one on the ride back.)  After riding them, I couldn’t believe that this is a common mode of transportation for most of the people here. The smog that comes out of these vehicles is SO SO bad. I could feel the film of gunk lining my lungs. It was that bad. And I’ve lived in Seoul and LA so I know a little about smog but this is like the worst smog I have ever ever seen. Apparently, the rates of asthma here are really high. Here are what the jeepneys and tricycles look like.

When we visited the school, the kids went CRAZY. We were walking in and all the school officials came out to greet us. All the classes were jam packed and there were classes in the courtyard, under a big tent. The student body president came and greeted us too. All the kids kept yelling and screaming… it was quite the raucous.  After a tour of the school, we went back to the development center.

Saying goodbye to this center was kind of hard… we all got to see what they did for a living and some of us on the tour even got to participate. This lady made snacks and sold them to kids. One of the sponsors help her make them that day and she was able to sell every single piece!  Another guy painted little trinkets as his job. A woman did nails. Some of the jobs that the men had were jeepney driver, tricycle driver and security guard. We got a tiny little taste of what a day in the life of a sponsor child and their family might be like…

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