Sunday, October 20, 2013

Update from October 20, 2013

Time is seriously flying by here. I can’t believe another week has come and gone. This week started as a typical Monday, which consists of school 7:30am-11:30am, then home for lunch and then James and I go to a weekly meeting with Kim and Rick while our kids stay here with mercy. This week our meeting was great!! We each discussed what God has been saying to us in our personal devotions and where we feel the ministry going. I love how God has us all on the same page. Rick gave James and me some awesome advice in how to deal with the people here and some ways to reach out and lead even more effectively than what’s already being done. After our meeting we came straight home, got the kids some sandwiches and apples and headed out to church. We a 5:30pm meeting with the ministry team there and then a 7:00pm meeting involving all the pastors. I love Mondays but man are they full.

Tuesday was a school holiday so this week we went to this place called Bamboo Falls. It’s a beautiful swimming area and when we were there we met a family from New York and Brazil. Daniel said, ‘Look mom, white people!!” White people are very uncommon here and I have to admit, it was nice to have a conversation in English while out and about. At the falls there are 15 ft. cliffs you can jump off of. Daniel led me up there and he and I made our first jump!! I absolutely love this kind of stuff but just a regular jump is not thrilling enough for me, so I climbed up again and then did a back flip off the cliff!! What a rush!! Everyone there watching was either videoing or screaming! The next time I went to do it I slipped on the way up but caught myself with a tree. I have a pretty bruised up leg and a busted eardrum from jumping, but I will say it was worth it. Daniel and I could have stayed there all day, but after our picnic lunch Sam and Lydia were pretty tired. So after dropping off a few people who needed rides we headed home for a peaceful Tuesday evening alone. Those evenings are rare and cherished. I, however, was in a lot of pain from my ear so my night was restless.

Wednesday, I did not stay to teach because any noise at all killed my ear. I got an antibiotic from “Dr. Kim” and began taking that immediately. So, instead of school, I ran errands with James and Samuel in Caticlan. It was a nice break from the classroom! After we picked up the kids we came home for lunch and naps. I had begun feeling a little off, but not sure what it was. By that evening I was not able to leave the potty or hear a thing. I was physically under major attack. Also this day we discovered two places of cellulitis on Daniel’s legs and James had a rash covering his back and arms. More yuck. James and the older two went to church and Sam and I stayed behind with Sister Anna here to help me out. James called and said he forgot the candy and crayons so when I took those to him Lydia came back with me! That night we had to squeeze Daniels boils and it was terrible. Wednesday was rough. Oh, I went to the dr Wednesday and found out I had e coli and/or an amoeba. That was the bad feeling and I got more meds. That also explained the complete exhaustion I had been feeling because my body wasn’t getting any nutrients.

Thursday, I stayed home, very sick and we kept the kids home too. WE needed to keep an eye on Daniels legs, mainly keep them clean and we were all just wiped out. Thursday was pretty quiet except that evening we went to the market for the food for our Friday feeding. As of Thursday I still could not keep down food or water. This is when I finally let my family know just how sick I was, and the prayers started. I love so much that one word to my sister and she’s calling out for prayers. It encourages us so much to look at emails and Facebook and see so much support. This type of ministry is very hard. I know there are harder places to serve, but I feel that anytime you are stripped of all your comforts and normal ways of living, it is just hard. I have been reading more and more about the disciples and Paul. They had no place they called home. They followed Jesus, or His leading, into the most uncomfortable places, even unto death. But, they were sold out, nothing would stop them. I pray to have this sort of courage and strength throughout my days of serving the Lord.

Friday the kids went to school and I stayed home. I thought I could get out and do some stuff but nope, I was put on strict bed rest by my hubby. I’m glad he did that because I was never going to heal unless I rested. On Friday afternoon the kids had rehearsal at school for a dance routine they are doing in the children’s parade on the 25th. Daniel is dressing up in the typical male Filipino garments and Lydia is wearing here American flag stuff! So after their rehearsal it was time for the feeding here at our house. Thank God for Sister Anna and Mercy because they cooked everything. WE had pancit. It’s like thin rice noodles with carrots, chicken, cabbage and whatever else you want to add. We had around 25 kids and 10 parents and we had tons of food left over. We used the extra food for the feeding the next morning. Because we have a fridge, we can keep the food here and then heat it for the next day. Most people here do not have a fridge so you eat what is made or give it away. I’m so thankful for the 2nd Baptist SS Class who are supporting our Friday feedings. You are touching lives and you don’t even know them. Thank you for helping us. On that note, we have been so blessed by your continued giving. You, as our friends and family, have no idea how blessed we are to have you guys in our corner. It’s amazing how a need with arise and we will check PayPal or modern day, and someone has donated just that amount. THANK YOU for being obedient when the Lord lays that on your heart. Also, I was supposed to have the girl orphans come spend this night with us but because I was still feeling bad I had to cancel. I feel super bad for that, but we will try again this Friday. The boys want to come stay every day and I want to let them, but there are some legal grounds to follow first.

Saturdays are so super busy for us. I thought I was feeling much better so I headed out to the first feeding. This is the one where we cross the river. Normally the river is pretty shallow but with the recent heavy rains it was up to my knees so this meant we had to carry kids across as well as the food and supplies. Needless to say after the feeding I was exhausted. There were only about 15 kids at the feeding but we have the feedings rain or shine and it was raining. WE met in the grandmother’s house. The families live near each other here and she is the grandmother for that area. Pretty sure most of the kids are her grandchildren or at least family in one way or another. When we got back here, soaking wet, I went up to lie down for a few minutes and the next thing I knew I woke up to a quiet house. This meant James and the kids, along with Sister Anna and tin, went to the next feeding. I got up and made the cookie dough for my cookies I was taking to a church opening and then laid back down. When James and the kids got back I headed to rick and Kim’s to bake and I took another load to a feeding here near our house. Daniel stayed with Sister Anna at the feeding and Lydia went with me to bake. Sam was at home with James napping. After I finished baking 12 dozen cookies we headed back home and made a quick market run. Sister Anna needed some things and so did we. I pretty much know my way around the market now and the prices to shoot for. They’ve seen us enough that they know we are not just tourists so they don’t try to mark prices up. Daniel was shopping with Sister Anna and they got a toy for Daniel, Lydia, and Samuel. I told her she is spoiling my kids, but according to her that is Auntie Anna’s job. I love that my kids are so loved here. We are too, but when you love my kids, that’s all I need.

Sunday, today, another busy day. WE went to pastor Leo and Sister Anna’s church today. They had the last service in their old church, preached by Pastor Rick and after that we attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at their new church. It is located up the hill from the other one and after church we all carried chairs and filed up there. It was crowded, hot, and one of the most beautiful days I’ve experienced here. To see these people faces that have worked so hard and given so much to make this happen, and finally it did. They had some beautiful music and the baraguay Captain made a speech. Rick and Kim cut the ribbon. After the ceremony we headed back here for naps and this evening we went to caticlan to get some time put on our internet card and have pizza. Our local internet is down so we have this smart card thing we use for now. Pizza has become our Sunday night tradition and I love it because the owners know us and it opens doors to share the gospel more and more.

Our days are long and exhausting, but worth every minute. The kids and I are really picking up the language pretty quickly and Sam jabbers stuff all the time so I’m sure he’s getting it too. James is learning but he is afraid to mess up or sound funny so he’s shy. We can sure see God using us here and it’s the most humbling thing I’ve ever known. I don’t feel like we are even denting the surface of all the needs but we just go where we are lead and serve. Thank you so much for your continued prayers. This week was a physically attacked week and not just for us. My family at home has had their share of issues too. But we serve a risen savior; He’s in the world today. I know that He is living whatever men may say. I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer, and just the time I need Him He’s always near. He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today. HE walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives, He lives, salvation to impart. You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart. Take that satan, you lose!!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My first Hospital Experience Here, Not for Myself

Before I forget the events over the last few days I want to blog so here goes…

On Thursday morning I made the comment to Brandy that I was “off to my day, whatever it may hold” and boy did it hold something I have never experienced here. When we got to school to what would normally be Daniel, Lydia and I staying for class and James running errands or helping with medical runs, we discovered there were 5 children needing to go to the hospital and 3 moms were there and the other two have no mom, so I needed to go because Kim (the one who normally does all the hospital stuff) was taking 2 others to another hospital a few hours away. So we set off for the hospital and among our crew was a very sick little boy named, Troy. His mom left him and his brother here a few months ago to go work. Not like work and send money, but work because it is best for her. Anyway he is a very troubled and hurting young man and you can see it all over his face. Well for almost a week he has been sick with a stomach virus type illness and the dehydration finally caught up with him. He got admitted to the hospital right away. He doesn’t understand much English and I don’t understand much of what he says which is little to nothing, but I can read hurt and this boy was in pain. As the nurses proceeded to get an IV started I literally cried along with him as I had to help hold him down. After the nurses were done, I held him the best I could to comfort him. About 30 min later they had to do some skin tests and he began freaking out again. The girl in there with him at the time (only 13) came to get me so I could, once again, hold him still. And again, I just cried. I kept thinking he needs his mom, how could she just leave her sons. Lots of unanswered type questions, but ultimately I knew where I was needed most and that was by his side. The rest of the crew we took with us had minor things that were easily treated and we sent home. When James got back he took them home and I stayed behind with troy and the 13 year old leslibeth. At one point she looked so young and so lost so I held her and apologized for her having to grow up so fast here. She lives above our church. She has family but no mom and dad and her family can’t take care of her and her sisters, so she, along with about 14 other girls live above our church. So around 1pm James came back to get me and I was sick leaving leslibeth there alone but I understand this is the way they do things here. On our ride home I didn’t say much of anything and when we got home I went straight upstairs and sobbed in my pillow. I cried for so many reasons, for troy, for the way the hospitals are here (just not clean and you share a room with so many people and no privacy at all) for kids being orphaned, for my selfish ways, for my kids, for my family…I really could go on. But James came in and prayed with me and talked me through some of the pains. I’m so thankful for the rock I have in him. I stayed in bed and napped with Sam Sam and that afternoon we hiked to a feeding where most of my students live. This is where Troy’s people are so I was glad to be able to report to them. The hike was only about 25 min, but I was worn out because I carried Sam on my back and I’m sorely out of shape. However, the view and feeding those precious kids is worth every step. After the feeding this boy, Jessie (who will probably be our son one day) lead Daniel, Lydia, and I down the mountain a different way so we could go get Jerome (Troy’s brother) and tell him about troy and see if he and Jessie could stay the night at our place. Well when we finally got to Mam Norrie’s, where the boys stay, it was dark. Jessie led us there but this walk was down the mountain, down another road, then through a rice field…adventure awaits!!! I will say putting my trust in an 8 year old was hard but he knew every step of the way. Well there are 6 boys that stay at mam Norrie’s and I wasn’t about to not have them all come stay if they wanted and sure enough, they did. So we piled in our van and headed here. It was so awesome to feed them and give them new toothbrushes and have an indoor bed for them to sleep on. WE just turned the mattress sideways and 3 boys slept on it while 2 others slept in the twin bed. The next morning, which is today, they were all up by five and watching cartoons with Daniel. When James and I got up at six thirty James headed down to make breakfast while I got ours ready for school. 21 eggs and a loaf of bread later, we were all ready for school. After a normal day at school all the boys, plus one more, headed back here with us. Mercy had fried chicken and rice waiting for us and the boys ate well.  Jessie wanted some ketchup…definitely my kiddo!! After lunch I laid down with Sam while James took all the boys plus Lydia and her friend swimming at this place they call the falls. It’s a river but it has small cliffs which the kids loved playing on. After that they all returned and had warm showers, with soap, and new clothes (James bought them each one outfit-$5 each) they were so grateful for the clothes and throughout the day Jessie kept smelling his shirt. He loved the clean smell, I guess. So this evening we had our feeding here and 37 kids were here. It is one of the biggest feedings there is and that is Awesome!! After the feeding James took sister Anna and pastor Leo to Caticlan to the market so they could shop for food and I fed the 14 kids who were either staying or just hanging out at my house. We had basically chicken and rice. There is a fancy Filipino name, but I don’t know it. So after dinner they continued to hang out and play kindles and after mam Kim, robin, Sister Anna, Pastor Leo, obed and Jessie left we settled in for a bible story, prayers, teeth brushing and bedtime. I hugged them all and told them I loved them and closed the door. As I write this I can still hear some of them going to the CR (we call it bathroom, they call it comfort room-cr). I’m so happy they are here and we can feed them and clean them. Tomorrow they will stay all day and tomorrow night, they go home after church on Sunday morning. This is the part I love; this is what I was created to do. To mother, nurture, encourage and pour myself into children. I’m so thankful for this chapter of my life and I’m trying desperately to be ‘all here’ and soak it up. Missing my family and friends makes it hard, but I know God knows what He’s doing the wherever He leads, I’ll follow.
Oh, and troy gets out of the hospital tomorrow and will come here to stay the night!!!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

WEEK #3 in the Philippines!

I definitely do not need to wait this long between blogs. So many things I’m sure I’ll forget but I’m surrendering this process to the Lord and HE will make of it what He sees necessary.

So beginning our first week of school here was very interesting. Daniel and Lydia are in the same class and I am in there with them as a teachers’ aid. However, by this week I’ve been doing a lot of teaching on my own which says a lot about the kids and myself. Their English is getting better and my Malaynon is getting better too. In the classroom there are 31 students. They range from 4 yrs to 15 yrs old. The reason for this is that some of these kids are right at Kindergarten level and some are above, but most of them are right at it. The reason for the older kids is that they have never been educated yet. The ati people have been pushed out of the society here so if they can’t pass a certain test to enter public school then they cannot go. This school gives them the opportunity to learn enough and even more to pass the test so that they may start public school. Now, you can’t tell they are up to 15 because Daniel is almost the biggest kid in the class. They are so mal nourished that they have not grown like they should, or they are just small Filipinos.

While we are at school, James and Sam are usually running errands for people or taking people to and from the clinic or hospital. This week James and the people have been working hard to get the mayor’s permit finished for our school! Everyone here has fallen in love with Sam Sam and he brightens days wherever he goes!!!

We attended some new feedings last week and they are in beautiful locations. Here everything is very green and there are lots of rivers. It’s such a sight to behold. The people here live almost completely off the land. For instance, on our way down from a very long hike to a feeding this lady tore off a leaf and stuck it to her forehead. I asked why and she said it’s good for headache and tummy ache. I should have grabbed a handful but I didn’t.  I also learned to make coconut oil this week. And we had fresh coconut milk because of that process. Here they cook with the coconut milk a lot and us the oil for pretty much everything. When my friend was showing me what to do, after she finished squeezing the milk from the coconut pieces, she ran her hands through her hair. She said the milk is very good to nourish, like conditioner.

We made another trip to borocay but this time the boat was a very nice inclosed ferry. At borocay we got lots of American style foods but we are mostly taking on the Filipino ways of eating. My kids love the bananas and mangos here.  We eat rice with every meal and lots of vegetables. Our meats are mostly pork and chicken. My friend, sister anna, is teaching me lots of ways to make foods here and I haven’t found anything I don’t like. Daniel eats more than I do these day s and Lydia has lots of rice with sugar sprinkled on it. Sam loves it all, but mainly the rice, just by itself.

The kids have made lots of friends and so have I. I am happy to say I know about as much Malaynon (the language here) as a two year old. I’m working very hard to learn. I have a notepad I keep with me to write down phrases and words I’m learning. I’ve learned enough that I can actually teach all alone!! My issues come when the kids are telling on each other, then I need some help. James is learning a lot from me and the kids are just picking up things as we go.

It’s a cooler time of year here right now. It’s about 70 at night and 80 during the day. It’s still very very very humid but we seem to all be getting used to it. We sleep with the ac on in our bedroom at night but no ac during the day. We have windows open and fans running. We moved the kids’ bed into our room so all five of us are in there, Filipino style. I like that better anyway.

We had a 4 yr anniversary celebration for the radio ministry here, last Sunday. There we over 300 people who attended and it was an awesome time to give praise to the work God is doing here. Our church in Cugon had and choir that sang (young people) and Rick Holden brought the message.2 young men gave their lives to Christ!! It was very cool!! I got to sing with my friend, sister anna’s group. I have just jumped right in here and I love it.

There are a few kids here I’m pretty sure will end up being our children forever but all of them have made their way into our hearts. There is nothing like holding a child, knowing they have no mother to hold them and that God has appointed you for that moment in their life. Or, filling their bowl with food and seeing their face light up. Who needs a thank you after that!?! 

At the feedings the food are one pot sort of meals. Mainly rice, with veggies and chicken. There is enough to feed the kids and their families and these feedings cost anywhere from $10 to $25 depending on the needs at each location. This feeds around 40-80 people. We also have coloring sheets for the kids and a multivitamin for them (the chewy kind). All of this meets such a small need for them, but at the same time it’s huge!! I’ve never been more fulfilled in my entire life, just by seeing their grateful faces. I’ve never seen a kid here say “no, I don’t like that” as a matter of fact they usually come back for seconds and thirds!!

I want to close this blog by saying Thank You/Salamat!! Without you and your prayers and financial support, we would not be here. I hope you know just how important you are to the work God is doing over here. I wish you all had the chance to join us, even for a little while, just to see the awesomeness He is doing here. I feel as though our family has so many areas in which God is using us here and none of that would be possible without your obedience to HIM. WE praise Him and give Him all the honor and Glory for everything and every day.