Reflection

As usual, I am playing catch up updating here on my blog. Now that I am Stateside for a few weeks, I figure I have no more excuses to put it off so here it is, a reflection of the last few months.

IMG_6681

Precious girl, I love you…forever and always.

I think I have put this off for so long because I did not want to write about this thinking if I would write about it, it will have actually have happened. One of the happiest and hardest moments of my life happened February 28th. My precious little Ruth met her forever family. I got the text that her parents would be in Manila 7 short days before they arrived! I immediately cried tears of joy and heartbreak. It was one of those moments where you don’t really regret praying for something but you almost want to take it back. Since this little 5-pound baby was put in my arms, I prayed for her forever family and now that this prayer was being answered, I just wanted a little more time.

Ruth had lived in our Children’s Home in Malaybalay since she was a week old but because of her passport being processed early, she had to move to Manila two months before her adoption which usually does not happen. Since she was already attached to me, we did not want her to have to go through the trauma of adjusting to the Children’s Home in Manila and then shortly after, adjust to her new forever home. So, I decided it would be best for me to unofficially foster her until her mommy and daddy came. These two months were some of the most exhausting months of my life. Two-year-olds are no joke! But, for every moment of ’oh my goodness I think this creature is sucking out every ounce of energy I have left in my body’ there were many more moments of ‘this child is the most beautiful soul there ever was and I do not know how I am going to ever let go of her.’ But I did.

We met with Ruth’s social workers and parents before they met her to sign paper work and for me to share with them about their child. It was so difficult to know what to tell the parents about their daughter when I had been the one to know every little thing about her from what food she doesn’t like to the made-up word she used for her flip flops. I told them everything I could think of, they signed the papers, and then I went out of the room to bring their daughter to them.

I picked her up for the last time that day as her mother figure and explained that her new mommy and daddy were downstairs waiting to meet her. I walked her downstairs and held her tightly the whole way. We walked into the room and when she saw them for the first time, she joyfully said “Mommy! Daddy!” like she was surprised they were actual people and not just pictures that we said goodnight to every night before bed. It was the cutest and most heartbreaking thing ever. We read books and played with a puppet until she was comfortable to sit in their laps and I slowly created the distance needed to let her go. Let’s just say, I held it together pretty well until this point, slipped out of the room, and sobbed.

Adoption is beautiful and it is hard. Knowing that Ruth was able to healthily attach to me and not develop an attachment disorder like so many children do in her situation, made it all worth it and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

On a much lighter note, things are going great in Manila! I am slowly adjusting to city life and loving my new job as Home Life Manager of 51 kids. We were finally able to close the Children’s Home in Malaybalay and it feels so good to have all my kiddos in one place.

IMG_8751

Beach Day!

It is summer time now so we have been trying to create activities to keep all our kids busy and out of the house some. We enrolled 21 of our kids in a parent-run basketball program which is like a 2-month tournament every Saturday. I coach one of the 7th/8th grade teams which has been a blast! It is so cool to see our kids stand out as individuals on their teams instead of being a ‘Children’s Home Kid’ which is what they are often referred to at school and in the community they live in. We went to the beach two weeks ago and the kids LOVED IT! Never seen more tired kids than in our bus on the way home from a day of swimming in the ocean.

We also had our first Kindergarten Graduation at Paglaum Learning Center in Malaybalay at the end of March! We had 11 graduates who are ready to enter 1st grade!

Grad

Paglaum’s Graduating Class of 2017!

It was so fun to see the joy on all our kids’ faces as they received their awards and certificates. I am so proud of each and every one of them and am excited to see what God has planned for their lives.

I am home (Stateside home) until May 18th. I will be speaking at churches, going to a lot of doctors’ appointments, going to a training in Texas, and spending as much time with my family (especially my little nephew) as I can. Thank you to everyone that supports and prays for me, allowing me to do what I love to do in the Philippines.

P.S. Thanks, Candace for the picture of me and Ruth. 🙂

Advertisements

Some Big News

 

image1-4

One step closer to adoption for my little girl. Only a couple more months or less!

Some big news….I am moving to Manila!

Kids International Ministries has gone through a lot of changes in the past few months which, in part, made it necessary to close the Children’s Home in Malaybalay on the same property of Paglaum Learning Center. This was a difficult decision but one that I think will be better for the children and for our ministry as a whole. Once I knew that it would be final that the home was closing, I started praying about what God wanted with me. I have become very involved with the care of the children in the home and have started to realize that God wants me involved in the care of orphans, especially these orphans who I have come to love. This made the decision to move and help in the Manila Children’s Home clear. My role in Manila will be working at our Children’s Home of 50 plus kids as the Home Life Manager. I’ll be in charge of staff development, program development for the kids like sports and arts, visiting teams and volunteer coordination, and whatever else comes up that I can help with. I have already been filling in this role part time these past couple weeks and so far I love it.

img_6805

Fun day at Manila Ocean Park.

Pagalum Learning Center will continue to serve the families in Malaybalay with the help of some amazing Filipino friends who are very capable of operating the school day-to-day. I will continue to serve as director; my plan is to fly down to Malaybalay every month to have staff meetings, catch up with people and, of course, see the students.

These are all a lot of big changes for me and for those around me. Please pray for this transition for me as I move, for the kids from Malaybalay as they move to Manila in a month or so, for those accepting our kids in Manila, and for those in Malaybalay that have been our children’s family over the years from house parents, volunteers, friends, and all who care about our kids. Pray for a sense of peace and comfort for all during this process.

 

December 2016 Update

img_86302016 has been a very full year for Paglaum Learning Center. Since the last time I wrote a blog, a lot has been going on…I know it has been months since I last posted an update but my goal for 2016 is to be more diligent about updating my blog to share with all of you! I won’t call it a New Year’s resolution since that title for me seems like it is just set up for failure, so a goal seems like a more manageable term to accomplish.

Anyways, the school is doing great. We currently have 56 little kiddos in our Kindergarten and Preschool classes and they are all growing and learning so beautifully! It is so cool to be able to see the students mature and have deeper conversations with them. They are the funniest little humans and it is such a joy to be in their lives. Whenever I pull up to the school or the kids walk by my office they all yell, “TEACHER MADI! TEACHER MADI! TEACHER MADI!” on repeat. It is for sure a great self-esteem booster even if it is slightly disruptive to their teachers. 🙂

img_9214

Our Preschoolers gathering materials for an art craft. 

Since I am not teaching this year and am in the administrator role of the school, I am not constantly in the kids’ classrooms so I love to sit in from time-to-time or play with them on the playground during their recess. It is just amazing to me how they are little sponges that soak up everything. It is so fun to listen to our Kindergarteners ask deep questions about their Bible stories and their want to know more about the Word. We are fortunate that our school has the freedom to be able to share, openly, about Jesus and the Bible to all our students and families. I love seeing their art work everywhere and their seedlings on the sidewalk. Our school is on a beautiful property with lots of natural learning resources so our kids’ Science is very hands on from nature walks to pick leaves for painting to planting little bean seeds in cups on the sidewalk. My teachers are so creative and I am very proud to have them teach our kids in such a fun, hands-on style that I know is very important.

 

img_2159

Our parents revived these beautiful quilts made and donated by Nancy Shuler as rewards. 

We had our first Family Sports Day in October. It was a great way to get the families involved and let our kids show what they have been learning in their P.E. classes for the first half of the year. Each class preformed a cheer/dance/gymnastics routine, we had a soccer tournament, fed everyone lunch, played tug-of-war and had sack races (even the parents had their turns which was hilarious for all). We ended the day with prizes and special rewards for families who have had no absents on their volunteer days at the school.

 

img_2121

The Preschool tug-of-war game got pretty intense! 

After having our sports day and hanging out on our playground with the kids (we have five swings and a little climbing gym) I have been thinking about how beneficial and fun more playground equipment would be for the school. I would love to get a nice playground set with monkey bars and plenty of things to climb on so the kids can continue to develop their gross motor skills and imaginations. If anyone would like to contribute to the playground or has any leads on some good deals, please let me know! You can send in a check to Kids International Ministries (P.O. Box 1369 Lawrence, KS 66044) and just stick a note in with it saying it is for Paglaum Learning Center playground or something like that. Or go to http://www.goestores.com/catalog.aspx?storename=kidsinternationalministries&DeptID=252799&ItemID=10285817&detail=1 to make a one-time donation; just select Paglaum Learning Center on the drop down box.

img_9509

Having ‘tea time’ with some of the Kindergarten girls.

 

Thank you to everyone who prays and supports the school! We are so grateful. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

August Update

stephanie

Classes started June 21st. We have 60 preschool and kindergarten students! Our staff has grown from 2 to 6! This year we have three teachers, a cook, an administrative assistant, and a volunteer P.E. coach. The school would not be the same without any of them. God has blessed the school greatly with a staff who truly loves all our kiddos and show Jesus’s love to them every day. This is one of the things that I prayed for…not just for a good staff with respectable credentials and experience but a staff that truly cares for our kids as much as I do.

IMG_0516

Our parents working hard on finishing their education. 

This school year has begun with a lot of change and a lot of new. We are in a new, beautiful building with three classrooms! This has allowed us to have a Kindergarten room, a Preschool room, and an office/parents’ programs room. On top of adding Kindergarten this year, we also added a program for our parents to obtain their elementary or high school diplomas and we have 13 moms and dads enrolled! It is so cool to walk from one classroom where I see the mom’s studying and then just right next door, their little kiddos are studying too! We were also able to build a small kitchen, storage room, and a covered eating area behind the school. These may seem like simple additions but they make a huge difference in helping the school run smoother and keeping the classrooms clean and organized.

 

IMG_0443

Our kids LOVE their P.E. class!

Probably our kid’s favorite addition (and maybe mine) to the school is P.E class! Each class has a 30 minute outside play period everyday so we decided to have P.E. twice a week during this time. A good friend of mine who has volunteered and worked at our orphanage in the past asked me if we needed help at the school with anything and he brought up the idea about having P.E. class and I loved the idea! When I was in school, I lived for P.E. class. It was my time to shine and I want our kids that might struggle with the academic part of school to be able to have an outlet where they are the kids that are having an easy time. It has been amazing to see our shy kids come out of their shells and run around the soccer field yelling and laughing. Like me, running and laughing is therapy for our kids.

 

IMG_0476

My sweet girl hanging out in my office at school.

A prayer request that I have shared before has been answered; my sweet precious baby girl is getting adopted! She was matched with a family in Sweden! It Is not completely official but if everything goes smoothly, she will be with her forever family in a few months. I have been having some pretty bitter sweet emotions about this.  I am so thankful that God allowed me to love her for her first two years of life. I have been there for a lot of her ‘firsts’ and it breaks my heart knowing that I won’t be there for the rest of her ‘firsts’ in life but I am so thankful that God has answered my prayers by providing this family to be her family.

 

I am currently in the States for a month for health problems. I have shared a little about how I have been sick with Lyme Disease for a few years 13510812_1071084276297215_3108695151556988224_nnow but after seeing all my doctors in May, they decided I needed a more aggressive treatment to try and get the bacteria out of my body. So long story short, I had a PICC line placed in my arm beginning of June while I was in the Philippines. It is so wonderful how it all worked out in God’s timing. I knew that this treatment would make me feel sicker before it made me feel better but it held off for the beginning of the treatment and I was still able to function pretty much full speed when we were setting up the school for the beginning of the year. Now that I am in the States, the treatment has been making me feel not so great, but it just shows me God’s hand and timing in everything and I am so grateful for this.

I want to thank all of you who pray for our ministries, for our kiddos, and for me. Our big prayer request right now is funding for the school. We are in need of more student sponsors to keep the school running. And please also pray for my personal health.

13654377_1095695467169429_6774851508705281083_nA few sponsors have asked me if they can send their student gifts or packages. If you wanted to do that, I am in the States until September 8th so you can mail me something at my parent’s address in Kansas and I can take it back with me. Just email me (madibennett11@gmail.com) to get the mailing address and so I know to expect something. I also have a ‘wish list’ of items/school supplies that the school is in need of if anyone is interested, I can get you that list.

What I Have Learned

IMG_8737First year of school complete! We had our end-of-year closing program last week. It is amazing to see the growth in all of our students. When we started school in June, after the first day of class, I was so overwhelmed. I’ll be honest, it was pretty much chaos those first few days. We had to establish more rules than I thought we would with the parents and the students and I really did not know how the school was going to work. After a couple more weeks, though, as the children adjusted, things started to look more like a real school…with some type of organization. If you know me at all, I like things to be organized and under control which is funny that I chose to start a preschool since both of those things are often impossible.

It is clear that God has taught me so much through these past nine months, really since I have moved to Malaybalay one and a half years ago. I have been stretched and challenged which has helped me grow in many areas.

IMG_8773I have learned a lot of the local language. I am for sure not fluent yet and that will take time but I can converse pretty easily and my vocabulary is growing. I have also learned a lot about the culture of the community here. This is also something that I think will take years to understand and learn but I am working on it.

I have learned how run a school. This is not without the help and hard work of many so thank you all! I am still learning but it is kind of insane to think about me running a real school since four years ago I did not want anything to do with any type of job that was related to any form of school let alone start and run one. My plan was to be a nurse but God’s plan is always perfect and I love my job now.

IMG_9046I have learned to live on my own. From living in my parents’ house to moving half way across the world to live by myself, I have learned many things like how to pay my bills (which is quite interesting in the Philippines since you cannot just mail in a check or pay with credit card but you actually need to go to each company to pay each bill with cash) and how to cook (well, still working on that one but I can survive now food wise and have learned a lot of local dishes and how to cook with local ingredients that I have never seen before).

I have also learned how to be a part time mom. I expected to help with the babies at the children’s home a little but I did not expect to have strong attachments with them. The first baby that came to the children’s home after I moved here was only a week old. I named her and she is very attached to me. IMG_8982I buy her diapers and milk, take her to the doctor, stay with her in the hospital the times she has been admitted, and spend the night when she is sick. She is the most precious baby and I pray every day for the adoptive family that will get to take her home to be theirs. I have also become close to a few of our older kids. As we are making changes in our children’s home, they will be transitioning to other homes or moving back with family. It is going to be hard for all of us but I know I will still be able to stay in contact with them. I will be moving one of our girls up to Manila tomorrow who I am closest to, it often feels like she is my daughter. I will get to visit her but please pray for her as she makes this big move to a new home and for me as she will be so far from where I live.

I am so thankful for all the things God has taught me and all the things I am still learning. I am excited to see all the things He will teach me during this next school year.

I will be heading back to the States from April 7 to May 23! I plan to visit friends, family and churches in California and Georgia so I will be traveling some during my time home. I am excited to be able to spend a lot of time with my friends and family in the midwest…especially my precious nephew :). Hopefully I will get some time to rest too.

Thank you again to everyone who has made this first school year possible! I could not have done it without you all!

January-February Update

Well it has been a while since I have posted my last blog. As always, I have been extremely busy the last two months so this blog will be kind of an update on what’s up here in Malaybalay.

The preschool is still going great! IMG_7289Last month, I spent hours upon hours putting together a portfolio/ application to have Paglaum Learning Center accredited for kindergarten this coming school year that starts in June. And praise God that the Department of Education said everything looks good and they would submit it to the region for the final stage. We have been working on this for 6 months so it is a relief to finally have it out of my hands and with DepEd. They said the regional DepEd will visit sometime in March to see our building and give the final go ahead.IMG_8165

Speaking of the building, it is almost finished!! Thank you to all who prayed for the finances and construction of the classrooms. When we talked about how much it would cost to build, I was very stressed out and didn’t see how I would be able to raise more than $40,000. But the funny thing was when I finally accepted that I could not raise the money and that I just needed to trust God, HE provided in a way that I could not imagine.

IMG_7275

The kids were very excited to see their future classrooms!

An Australian team of more than 20 came for two weeks in January and practically built the whole school. When they were here, I would go out to the property where the school is and every day there were major progresses on the building. It was just amazing to see how hard this team worked literally from sun up to sun down. I am so thankful that they were willing to spend their time helping build this building that will be used to serve the children and people here for years to come. I cannot even begin to imagine all the purposes God has in store for this building that so many have had a part in completing.

Another team from Ohio came two weeks ago on a medical mission. They spent a few days in Tacloban (the city that was hit the hardest by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013) and then they came to us to spend two days diagnosing, treating, and loving on our people here in Malaybalay.  We are so grateful that they came; it was very eye opening to see how sick our people actually are and how even if they have somewhat serious cases, they simply cannot afford to go to a doctor. The team left a bunch of medications that we can use to help our people in the future.

IMG_7893

Sibling Love

One thing that has been going on, that I cannot give much detail, is that we have to make some big changes at the children’s home here. The government evaluated our home and had some issues with how some of our children have been with us for too long and that they have not been adopted. Some of our kids have complicated cases that make adoption very difficult making it take a long time to process all of their papers. Because of the government agency concerns, we have to move some of our older children to homes that are meant for long-term living for older kids or find foster families for them. This is obviously very hard on the kids since this is their home and it has been for a long time. It is also very emotional for me and the other adults who work for the home or help run it. I am trying to trust God that He has a perfect plan for these kids but it is none-the-less very emotional for me. Please pray for our children, God’s timing, and for me as these changes occur in the coming months.

December Update

IMG_7840It has been a pretty long time since I wrote my last blog so I will try and update you all on what has been going on the last two months or so. It is a little long but I guess it’s worth the last two blogs I never did.

I have been busy with the preschool, children’s home, and traveling. I had the opportunity to go to Australia towards the beginning of November! I stayed with my friend, Rose, who just had her first baby and we spent a lot of time exploring Perth, shopping, and talking. I was able to speak at two churches as well when I was in Perth which was good exposure for the ministry! On my way back to the Philippines, I had a longer layover in Singapore so I got to go out in the city for a couple of hours and sight see. It was so fun to see all these new places and meet a lot of new people!

IMG_7724Last week we broke ground on the new classrooms for the next school year! It is so exciting to see this finally happening after planning it for the last year. We will have two classrooms, one for pre-k and one for kindergarten. Today, two accreditation people from the Department of Education came to visit the land and our current classroom. They said everything looks great and are very excited to see the school grow in the future and how we will be able to serve the kids that attend. They said that all my application papers are looking good so far and we are on track for getting accredited for the next school year in June! They also said that it will be really easy for me to add grade 1, 2, 3 etc. which is a little overwhelming but we will see what God has in store. It is so amazing to see God work though all of these things.IMG_7870

Last week I also started a Bible study for the younger teenage girls from our children’s home (ages 11-13). We will be working through the Bible study, A Daughter’s Worth, by Ava Sturgeon every Friday afternoon. I think it will be really great to be able to talk with these girls about their true worth and how valuable and precious they really are no matter what anyone else tells them. Please pray for the girls and for me while we work through this study. I am usually focused on younger aged kids so doing this with teenaged girls is a little out of my comfort zone but I think it will be really good for all of us to learn about our worth to God as His daughters.

IMG_7618The preschool is doing great and all the kids are learning and growing so much! It is so fun to be able to get to know them each and see their individual personalities come through in class and in their work. One of our students dropped out of school three months ago. His grandmother was tired of taking him to meet the van and did not see the point in why he should be going. We tried to explain how much he was learning and how much he loved school but she would not change her mind. I had sent him home with some paper, pencils, and crayons so that maybe he would continue to learn a little even if he was not going to school. Two weeks ago, he just showed up at school with his grandmother. I was confused and asked the grandmother why he was back at school and she said that she had to bring him back because he has been begging her to bring him back to school for the last month and would not stop asking. I love how this little four-year-old has such a passion for learning and going to class. He has slipped right back into his class as if he never left. Please continue to pray for all of our students and for the funds of our building project.IMG_7648

Some other prayer requests I have are for the adoptions of a few of our kids from the children’s home. I had mentioned previously about how a sibling group (ages 7, 11, and 13) are waiting for a family to be matched with. Please continue to pray for these kids that they will be matched with a forever family. Another adoption that is in the works is of a little 13 month old girl who has a special place in my heart. She came to us at less than two weeks old after she was found abandoned at birth and spent a few days in a hospital. I named her when she came to us as a tiny precious baby and she now calls me mama. She has all of her papers finished and is waiting for a match either domestically or internationally. Please pray that she is matched with a loving family that will care for her and love her as much as I do.

The Joys of Everyday Life

IMG_4566I am not sure why this feeling of joy has been so overpowering lately, but I love it! I still get homesick. There are still days where I cannot fathom all the needs of the people.  But the joy just makes me know even stronger that this is where I should be. I want to share a few moments from the last week that have made me take a step back and see the pure joy – moments that have made me do everything possible to try and keep happy tears from flowing:

IMG_4198 Before our afternoon preschool class started one day, I was helping the kids walk down the stairs. Without anyone prompting them, they started counting (in correct order!) as they jumped from one step to the next. All I could think, while smiling was, “Okay good…they are actually learning something in class.”

Our oldest student, a seven- year- old, used to be one of the shyest kids I have ever seen. It took three months of me talking to him every Sunday at church for him to even answer my question with a gesture. He would never join the other kids in playing games and just sat quietly with his brother in the background. Since he started in our class, he has come alive! Now every morning he leads all the kids in singing songs before class and he is always smiling. It is like he finally feels like he can act like a child.

IMG_4648Friday was a holiday here, so I took eight of the kids from the children’s home out to play arcade games and eat ice cream at the mall. When we got home, the kids asked if they could wash my car. They always think it is horrendous that I never get it washed, so I said “Yes.” They had a great time and of course it ended in a full out water fight. It was just the simplest joy for the kids to help serve me by washing my car.

Grace, who runs things for us here in Malaybalay, told me last week (while laughing) that a lot of the moms of my preschool had a common complaint about our program. Their complaint was that the kids’ uniforms are starting to not fit, because their kids are getting fed too much. IMG_4704This is one of the best things I have ever heard! It is amazing that we get to feed these little ones nutritious meals and snacks so they can grow strong and healthy. So yes, I hope we will have to get new uniforms because the ones they have get too tight. I will gladly pay to have more uniforms made, since that means our kids’ bodies are being nurtured well.
Through all these moments, I just thank God for the amazing life he has given me and for all the amazing people he has put in it! I am truly blessed to be able to live this crazy and wonderful life. I also wanted to list a few prayer requests on this blog.

  1. A sibling group of three at our children’s home has all of their adoption paper work completed and are now just waiting to be matched with a family! (when I heard this…well actually typing this now too, I can’t help but choke up because it makes me so happy to think that these sweet three kids that I have come to love could have a forever family). Their ages are 13, 10, and 7. Please pray for a family for them.
  2. My personal health. Some of you may know that I have struggled with Chronic Lymes Disease for a few years now. I was doing really well for a while but the last month has been pretty bad which makes having so much to do really hard. Please pray that the new medications start to help soon.
  3. Building and school accreditation. We almost have the go ahead to start construction on the new school classrooms! We are also in the process of applying under the Department of Education so we will be accredited to have a kindergarten next year. Please pray for funding of the building and a smooth process to get our accreditation for next school year.

Guest Blog From My Dad

blog 2Here is a new blog finally (I will really try and post more often)! 🙂 About a month a go, my parents visited for a little more than a week. My dad wanted to do a guest blog thing so here is his blog about his time here:

This is Madi’s dad, Doug.  After our recent trip to spend time with and serve alongside Madi I asked her if I could write her next blog entry.  Hopefully she doesn’t edit me too much! We are so proud of our once shy, but now adventurous baby girl!  What an impact she is making on the lives of impoverished Filipino children and their families!  blog 4We had the privilege of seeing her learning center in action and helping out by playing and reading with the children.  They are such adorable kids.  By working with these children, Madi is able to get to know their families and hear of their needs.  There are great needs in this community which sometimes Madi is able to help with and sometimes not.

blog 1We saw how she helped one little boy who had a really nasty rash on his head from lice or just bad hygiene.  She sent him home with Neosporin and when we saw him the next week his little head was all healed up!  One mom, who is pregnant, wants to volunteer to help out where needed every day of class so that she can eat with the children in order to provide good nutrition for her new child on the way.  And finally, the adorable baby that Madi has taken under her wing since arriving there who was abandoned by the garbage dump  had a bout with dehydration from a virus and was hospitalized for 2 ½ days while we were there to receive fluids.  Madi and Angie spent the whole time in the hospital with her (even though they eventually caught what the baby had)!  She recovered and is doing great.  Three neat  stories with happy endings.

blog 3Another story, but with an unhappy ending concerned a mother of one of Madi’s students who had a younger child who died from probably the same virus that the baby experienced.   The family waited too long to take their baby to the hospital because they did not have the money to pay the hospital.  This happened shortly before Madi’s Learning Center began.  We are hoping that as Madi gets to know these families better, this kind of sad story will hopefully have a happier ending.

Big Days and Hard Days

IMG_6137

Monday was a big day; we had opening day of Paglaum Learning Center and parent orientation for this school year! All of the moms of the students were very excited after seeing the classroom set up. It was so encouraging to see the moms’ faces full of joy and hope because their children will be getting an education early in life! Thank you to all who have supported the opening of the school by praying and sponsoring students! Our first full day of classes were yesterday and the kids had a lot of fun!

Like I have mentioned before, I also help out at the orphanage here a lot and it has just been really emotionally hard these last two weeks.

We received a new little girl who is a year and nine months old but she looks like she just turned one. She was extremely malnourished and her mom decided it was best for her child to have the chance of being adopted and living in a place that can take care of her and feed her. It took a few days for the little girl to even show a smile because she was having such a hard time adjusting.

One of our older girls, who had lived with her grandmother since she was a baby and came to the orphanage when she was seven, went to visit her birth mother for the first time ever.  When the girl went, even though her mother knew she was her child, she refused to accept her as her own. This was really hard for our girl because she has always been praying for an adoptive family but is getting too old and now her own mother will not accept her. Since then, I have noticed she has been more reserved and I know she is hurting so much inside.

Last week, a mom that decided to give up her baby at one month old came to visit and after seeing her baby, she started crying and walked away and did not come back.

Today we will be receiving a foundling two month old baby boy. A foundling is a child that has been abandoned and there is no information about whose child it is. Two of our babies right now are foundlings that were found in the garbage. I do not know this baby’s story but I cannot image the pain his mom is going through right now.

I have seen a lot of these stories here in the Philippines and it can start to seem normal but I just cannot ignore it. Please pray for these children’s little hearts. And also please pray for the parents, both the parents that gave them up or abandoned them and the possibility that these children will have a forever family someday with parents who treasure them. And pray for me, that I can be there for the children when they are hurting and show them the love of my Savior.