Note the reassuring sticker inside the Jeepney!
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
Tuesday night there was a going away party for our group at the orphanage. It was fun and the food was good. Many kind words were said by both our group and the people associated with Valley Cathedral. Adriana shared with the group how hard it would be to leave because it had become like home to her. She hopes that she will be able to return soon. But most surprising and wonderful to me was when they brought my friend Ranier and many of the children from Kakabay in to sing and dance as part of the presentation. I wept as I listened and watched. The only thing that could have made it better was if I could have seen Robuan once more before I left.
Then I was asked if I wanted to accompany the group back to Kakabay. On the way the girls sang several songs. It was beautiful.
Hurry, hurry, the bus arrived early. Gobble a quick breakfast. Last minute photographs. Stuff damp laundry into duffle bags. One last hug for Emman and a prayer too. I will miss him so. The pain in my eyes (Thomas, Adriana, and I now have pink eye) is only exceeded by the pain in my heart…
Always more vehicles than space can allow
Rain pouring down
Scrawny dogs everywhere
Laundry hanging out to dry
Coca Cola signs – sounds good but as it is warm, not so refreshing
Children in school uniforms
Umbrellas rain or shine
Various shades of brown skin
Glossy black hair
Homes that look like they will tumble with the next gust of wind
Litter everywhere, especially in every body of water
Such poverty but yet the people bless me so
Journey to Baguio:
Large, spacious bus
Bread passed around
Really need to use a C.R.
Finally, a CR – bring your own paper
Jolly Bee – burger, fries, and a Coke for lunch
Back in the bus
No traffic signs to guide such as traffic signs. Not that the one or two I’ve seen are followed, so why bother?
C.R. stop – 2 pesos per person, b.y.o.p.
Seems like a long time driving – maybe because it has been
Rain pours down
Winding roads up the mountain
Finally, a familiar face; Harry climbs on board and guides the driver for the last of the journey
Guys unload in the rain
Harry and Dee’s place is cute and cozy
Directed across the street and behind the first building to our home for the week
We’ll be sharing with the Traptows
Downstairs kitchen, living room, and comfort room
Upstairs 3 bedrooms and comfort room
Our family in one room – two sets of bunk beds
Turned on the tap, no water. that's when I noticed the sign on the wall
At first glance, no shower
Silly us! We’re not in the U.S. Those buckets of water with the dipper – that’s the shower.
Remember, no paper in the toilet.
Toilets don’t flush – see buckets and dipper
One foot square hole in the wall to let in fresh air
Monday, September 24, 2007
Friday night is movie night at Valley Cathedral Children’s Home. This is a much anticipated treat for the boys and girls here. It is amazing to see how they entertain themselves the rest of the time. Sure there are swings and a merry-go-round here. They even get out bicycles some afternoons for the children to share. But usually the boys and girls entertain themselves with simple toys such as bottlecaps or bottles with strings tied around them. The other day, several of the boys were thrilled to have paper airplanes to play with, while Emman, my tutoring buddy was excited to have a paper boat. Saturday, Adriana joined some of the Filipino girls in a game similar to jump rope. The girls had a big circle of rope created by tying several bits of string together. Two girls positioned themselves at the ends while another jumped the strings in the middle. The girls would raise the string higher and higher to make it more challenging even up to their waists.
RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY
Saturday afternoon our family was going to return to Kakabay but the rain pouring down made access not possible, even dangerous. Think mudslides. This was disappointing and sad as we were going along with those bringing food to the village. For some it would have been their only meal of the day. Thomas said one of the boys that lives there, Arnold, only eats whenever his mother is able to sell things gathered from the nearby garbage dump. I am so blessed I have no idea what this must be like.
It seems wherever we go we are treated as special. The people here think our white skin and blonde hair are very beautiful. Our girls often have people playing with their hair and calling them dolls. This bothers me especially when I heard the Filipinos often bleach their skin and hair. Many think the lighter your skin and hair the more beautiful you are. I do look at my girls and think they are beautiful but I look at the dark skin and hair of my new friends and think they are just as, if not more, beautiful. I want them to know God made them beautiful.
Besides all the compliments on our physical appearance, the girls are frequently showered with gifts. The children of the orphanage and the surrounding poor villages give food and items such as china figurines. One of the cooks here, Eden, gave each of our girls a paper basket she made. The small one she crafted for Annalise took her four hours to make and the other girls were given larger ones. I am overwhelmed by the generosity of those around me that have so little.
Annalise really looks like a celebrity now; she has pink eye and is wearing sunglasses. Overall, the pink eye epidemic is slowing down. But it has finally entered our home.
Adriana’s mystery rash has disappeared.
Wednesday morning, we will leave for Baguio. It will be difficult to say good-bye. Many of the children, and staff, have become like family.
Thomas' buddy, Jason
Annalise having her hair stroked by a friend
Friday, September 21, 2007
Adriana, Alexie, and Eden working on baskets (Jesse and Baby in the background)Grace,
Thursday, September 20, 2007
This is the video I attempted to add to yesterday's blog. The children's singing was an incredible experience for our group.
I am adding prayer for the physical health of our team to our prayer list. Specifically for our family, Adriana has a mystery rash over her whole body - no fever or other symptoms though. Annalise has a cough. She had an ear ache last night, but it is gone this morning.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Yesterday Thomas and I returned to the
I agree with Lisa that the most remarkable memory from yesterday’s visit was when the children sang to us. The video is unable to impart the impact we felt within us.
I was also blessed to be able to spend some time talking with a man I had met and prayed with on Saturday, Robwan. (Unfortunately, I did not get pictures of Robwan.) He is 53 years old and has suffered a stroke. It has reduced his strength in his left side and made talking difficult for him. He moved to Kakabay about 30 years ago and found that life was much easier there than where he had lived before. He and his wife raised their 10 children in the village. He raises chickens and turkeys. They also have a convenience store in their home. They sell prepackaged snacks, individual packets of
Several from our group were also able to attend the funeral of a local man who had committed suicide. He leaves behind his wife and 6 children. Suicide is always devastating, but I can only imagine what this means for this family. Before we left the village, the funeral procession passed with several men carrying the casket and the family walking behind.
Leaving was not a simple matter for us. Because of the condition of the roads which were worsened by recent rain, our truck was not able to get out of the village. Men from the village pushed. They put wooden planks down in the mud for traction. Children gathered rocks from the stream to put in the mud also. Finally, we were able to get up the hill and make our way out. One teammate wept as we drove out to the main road, overwhelmed by what she had experienced.
On the way home, we stopped at a bakery to buy some food. Our whole group, 32 adults and children, had been invited to someone’s home for dinner. It was a wonderful time of fellowship with their family. The fried chicken was excellent too.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
For the first several days, things were very relaxed. Most of our time was spent with the kids. Lisa shared a testimony and Alexie sang a song during the midweek service. When Alexie was asked for an encore she was joined by her sisters for a couple more songs.
Yesterday the pastors and leadership associated with Valley Cathedral Ministries met with our group in the morning to share opportunities where our group can minister. This began a tsunami of activity as our group is now investigating and partaking in these opportunities. Almost everyone in the group now has a child whom they are tutoring. Many have accepted invitations to lead Bible studies. There are several food distributions with which we will be participating.
Fortunately, laundry is a simple issue. As there are no electric washing machines, all laundry is done by hand. There are several ladies who live within walking distance who we have hired to do our laundry for us. This is a great situation for all involved; they are able to earn an income and we are able to focus on ministry activities.
On a side note, Tim and Becky, the boys’ house parents, are in the process of creating a blog about their life here at the orphanage. When it is ready, I will let you know the address in case you are tired of reading ours and want something interesting to look at from time to time.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
We have been blessed in our time at Valley Cathedral Children’s Home. Right away the kids from our team began making friends with the children who live here. Sometimes the girls read to the children, other times they swing and play. The adults have gotten in on the action as well. spent most of our time holding children on our laps, plWe haveaying, reading stories, carrying them and otherwise being loved and loving. This is not a place for those who don’t enjoy hugging and being hugged.
Our accommodations are spacious and comfortable. Most of us have air conditioning and a room that overlooks the ocean. The sunsets are beautiful. Warm water seems to be hit or miss in our shower, but anything cool is somewhat welcome – even if it is a shower.
While there are potential opportunities in the prison and someone was looking into the potential of visiting a hospital, the real ministry we are engaged in is to bless the children and the staff of the various Valley Cathedral ministries. The children love the attention they are receiving. We hope to help the staff of the orphanage and the various churches associated with Mommy Zelma’s ministry, reducing their burden while we are here.
This week there is a camp going on in cooperation with the school. They are learning songs, first aid, knots, teamwork, etc. The kids from our group began to participate, but most became discouraged when nearly everything was in Tagolic. Josh, Adriana, and Annalise all stuck with it to the end.
As part of the camp, there was an evening service last night. Our group put on a couple of puppet shows and a drama. Doc presented a teaching. I think all of it went well. I had to bring Annalise home and put her to bed, so I didn’t stay for the campers’ talent competition that followed.
While we are certainly feeling blessed in so many ways, there have been challenges. There has been some strife among team members. I have had more difficulty adjusting to the change in time and temperature than I had anticipated. That may also be the case for others. But at this point all of these issues are relatively minor and I am confident that they will all be worked out as we begin settling into a routine.
I suppose I am talking in circles by coming back to the kids, but that is what this part of our journey centers on. I have a few children who are in the process of adopting me: Jason and Hannah. My story is not unique; everyone has their favorites and has been selected as a favorite by one or more children. One little girl Jenny has stolen everyone’s heart, especially Alexie’s. She is three and when she came to the home last year, she was the size of a small baby. Now she is growing and healthy – and very much, adorable.
While their backgrounds vary and are generally heartbreaking, it is encouraging that they are able to stay here. The living conditions are at a standard much higher than most of what I saw as we drove here from