“L” and I before church one week.

The past few months have been exciting with lots of moving forward. The Mango Home finally received our government license to operate and officially accept girls into our home! It took 11 months to receive this, which I now know is extremely fast (many people take 1-2 years to get their license) even though it felt like a long and grueling process to me. We received our license on my birthday, which was a fun surprise and probably the best birthday gift I have ever received.

We accepted “L” into the Mango Family on September 7th. She is 16 years old and we found out about her in April and agreed to accept her when we received our license. “L” is full of joy and laughter. She loves playing volleyball, the guitar, board games, going for walks, and just sitting and chatting. “L” struggles in school more than we expected so we plan to homeschool her so she can get the one-on-one attention she needs with her school work. She is interested in learning to play the violin and guitar, so we are looking for a teacher for her. Thank you to Lisa and Jeff from my home church for finding a violin for me to bring back to the Philippines.


Visiting some local waterfalls with the girls for a field trip. 

On September 27th, we accepted “V.” “V” is 17 years old (almost 18). When I heard about her case, I knew that we could not accept her into our home because of our license restriction on the ages/types of girls we can accept. We felt burdened by her case so we worked hard to try and find the best placement for her since we could not take her. After a couple weeks of praying, calling multiple agencies, and a lot of waiting, nothing came up as a good option for her. We felt like there were no other options for her but we could not just drop it. She was staying in the office of a government social worker for two weeks which is heartbreaking. Our social worker suggested that we just try and call DSWD (the government sector that is over our license) and ask them if they would make an exception. I told our social worker to go ahead but I honestly thought it wouldn’t get us any further. She called and to my extreme surprise, they told us if there is no other place, go ahead and take her. All we needed to do was submit a letter to change a detail on our license. You hear a lot of stories of God moving mountains like this but when you actually experience it yourself, it is amazing.

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Playing games has been a great way to “break the ice” when girls join the family. It is often awkward at the start but playing games and laughing helps develop connection.

Every single piece of paperwork, all the permits, and the long waiting for things to be approved have been hard during this whole license process. Like really hard and to see God make this so simple, shows His love for this precious 17-year-old who needs a safe family where she is loved and cherished. I am still in awe of how God worked in this situation. “V” is quite but is starting to warm up. She loves to read, play basketball, and is gifted at sewing. We went shopping to get her some new clothes and she came home and hemmed her new jeans herself. I know I sure can’t do that! I am excited to see “V” thrive here and am looking forward to getting to know her better. “V” is in a court case and will be testifying in a few weeks. Please keep her in your prayers as she prepares for this terrifying day.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for my mom. I was able to spend two months in the States with her after her surgery. She just finished all her radiation treatments and is doing really well!! I loved my time in the States being able to be with my family and also speaking at a few churches to fundraise and share about The Mango Home. I also was able to be in my best friend, Shelby’s wedding in June! It was a blessed trip.

Summer Update

Since the last time I wrote, a lot of things have happened!


“K”, me and Angelica before church.

I shared previously that the 14-year-old placement we had, “K”, was to be placed with her extended family. Well…this did not happen. Thankfully the family that was supposed to take her were honest and said they felt they could not handle her behavior or her basic needs. It was hard to hear this, but we now know that they would not have been the best placement for her. “K” was with us for almost 3 months. During these months, her behavior got worse and we realized she needed more security than we could provide. After reaching out to other family members of “K”, we were left with only one option, to find another child caring agency that would take her. As we have learned, it is nearly impossible to find a home willing to take a 14-year-old with more severe behaviors. After weeks of calling and searching, by the grace of God, we found a home that would not just be willing to take “K” but that we felt was a really good fit for her! This home is a Christian run home for girls that focuses on the therapeutic needs of their children and works hard to prepare their girls to be reintegrated with biological family. The long-term goal is that “K” can receive the healing she needs to be able to be placed with her grandmother.

Caring for “K” was very challenging and due to safety reasons for “K” and the others in our home, we were on a 24-hour watch where there was always someone awake at night. Combined with the normal daily work of the ministry, “K”’s severe behaviors, and not sleeping much, life was really challenging and stressful. But even with all of that, I know the Lord placed her in our home so we could find her the best home for her needs. If we had not taken her, she would have gone to a government run facility where I know her needs would not have been met and I do not think it would have turned out good for her or others around her. No matter how hard it was, I am thankful that God placed “K” in our lives. “K” was moved on May 29th to her new home and on that same day, Angelica gave birth!


Sweet Baby Ana Rose (picture by Candace)

In my last post, I mentioned that a 19-year-old had reached out for help. I have known Angelica since I was 12 years old when my family volunteered at the children’s home she lived at. Angelica moved into our home in February and has been a complete joy and light in the house. When she moved in, she was 5 months pregnant so over the past few months we have been preparing for the arrival of her sweet baby. Precious Ana Rose was born on May 29th. She weighed almost 7 pounds! Angelica and Ana Rose are doing really well now, and Angelica is adjusting to being a mom. She has decided to stay with us and just started going back to school this week! She dropped out of school when she was in 10th grade so she is now doing a program where she will be able to receive what would be equal to her GED. Since Angelica has her daughter, we hired her as a staff member of the home so that she can continue to live with us. She works part-time for us to be able to provide for her daughter. As most of you know, I LOVE babies so having Ana at home brings me so much joy and I get all the baby snuggles I want. 


Candace, “L”, and I. This was the first time I was able to meet “L”.

The process to receiving our license and be able to really start The Mango Home has been long and slow but we have finally made huge progress and are waiting for our license to be approved any day now! Once we get approval, we will be able to accept girls from ages 13-18 years old. Even before having our license, we have had multiple referrals of girls from all different backgrounds and reasons why they need a home. Most of the referrals have been for temporary custody, which is not our focus but one girl stood out to us. “L” just turned 16 and has lived in a children’s home since she was a baby. For different reasons, she was never adopted and has no family to go to now that she is too old to be adopted. When I heard her story, I knew that she belongs with us and her background is exactly why we started The Mango Home in the first place. I am so excited that when we get our license, “L” will be joining our home!! She loves volleyball, basketball, and playing violin. I can’t wait to know her more and welcome her into the Mango family soon! Please keep her in your prayers as she plans to make this big transition. “L” is so excited to move but I know this big life transition will bring a lot of pain and loss with it.


Angelica and “K” walking the dogs, Aspen and Pilot, in our peaceful neighborhood one evening. 

At the end of May, I found out my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. This news hit me so hard but the Lord has been gracious and she had a successful surgery in June to remove the tumor. It is early stage and she will only need radiation treatment. I was planning to come back to the States for my best friend’s wedding and then stay for a month to see all my doctors and fundraise. Since learning about my mom, I decided to extend my trip for another month to help around the house and take her to her doctors. I will be in the States until the end of August. I am also able to use this time to fundraise and for the Mango Home and meet with people to update them on the ministry. I spoke at my home church last weekend and have another new church set up to speak at! My pastor is working hard to set up more churches for me to be able to share about the ministry. I am so excited to spread awareness and get more people involved! Please pray that I am able to get more connections while in the States. Please pray for not just more financial support but prayer support as well. It is amazing to see the ministry coming together and how the Lord is leading us step by step.


April Update


At the beach with “A” last weekend.

The past couple months have been more than busy. In February, a 19-year-old girl moved into our home. I have known her since I was 12 and she was 8 when she was living at a children’s home my family used to serve at over summer break. She reached out for help and we soon found out she was expecting a baby. “A” is due in May so we are in full baby prep mode.

I am so thankful that God wove our lives back together after 10 years. For now, she is living at our home and working part-time for The Mango Home helping with our ministry outreaches and around the house. I am not sure how long she will stay with us once her baby girl is born, but I am thankful for every day she is with us. She has such a kind personality and is a joy to be around. Please keep her in your prayers as she prepares to become a mom very soon.


Candace, “A”, “K”, and me enjoying an evening walk. Our neighborhood has a beautiful view of the Manila skyline. 

In March, another girl moved in! “K” was taken out of her abusive home and placed with us for temporary care. She is 14 and is very…VERY extroverted. For anyone who knows me, I’m pretty introverted so it has been a challenge and I have done a lot of growing these past couple weeks. I traveled down to Tacloban last week with our social worker to locate safe relatives of “K.” It was a successful trip and we are hoping to place her with these relatives in the coming weeks. It will be hard to say goodbye but The Mango Home is designed for girls that have absolutely no family or no safe family to live with. Since “K” has safe family that are willing to care for her, it is best for her to be with them. Please pray for all of us and “K” as the process to place her with these relatives begins.


My TBRI group learning an activity to help teach children how to give and receive care. 

I had the opportunity to teach more TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) here! In March, I did a two-day training to teach the principles of TBRI. A friend of mine is a jujitsu competitor and coach and asked if I would train her and some of her fellow coaches in TBRI. She has started her own movement called Fight to Protect which advocates for different child rights and sexual abuse victims. Part of her ministry is to teach kids that have experienced abuse jujutsu to help them learn self-defense and self-confidence as part of their healing process. I love partnering with people who use their God-given talents to serve kids in unexpected ways.


A group of ladies from our church joined us for an outreach program at a government-run girl’s home.

We are still working on our licensing process with the government. We knew it would be hard and a long process…and I guess that’s exactly what it is. To be honest, it has been really frustrating. We have a house, a social worker, an administrator, and a part -time caregiver but what is holding us up is paperwork! The process here to get permits and other legal documents is so tedious. I am trying to be patient, and I know deep down that it is all in God’s perfect timing but it is easy to look past that and try and figure out by myself how to get it done. So, I am also growing in being patient and waiting.

Having “A” and “K” in the house has also been really hard for me. I know that everyone says you can never really be fully prepared for this kind of thing but it is hard! Making sure the kids are always fed, taking them to their activities, making sure they have stuff to do, teaching them how to do chores (and actually do them!), caring for their emotional needs, helping through meltdowns and anxiety attacks, the list goes on of course. Teens are hard. I have joked that teaching little toddlers at preschool is far less exhausting than caring for teens but it’s so true! I have had a fair number of my own emotional meltdowns over the past month. But for all the hard moments, I know this is where God has placed me. I am constantly being reminded by little things that I would not be here without God and I cannot continue without Him either.


Grocery shopping at our local market. It may smell pretty awful most of the time from all the hanging meat and fish, but the fruit stands are beautiful to me.

You know the saying, “God never gives you more than you can handle,” is not true.  He does give you more than you can handle so that you have to lean on Him. I heard this from a pastor of a church that supports me and I am constantly reminded of it. Every moment that anxiety rises up and the current challenge seems impassable, I have to remind myself that it might be impassable on my own but I am not alone. I joined a weekly Bible study and it has been such an encouragement and a personal challenge to not lean on myself, but lean on God. To fervently pray instead of worrying. To bring my struggles to God and trust Him…fully trust Him. I was watching a sermon from Francis Chan and it really challenged me to pray without doubting. For me, it’s easy to pray and talk to God about my challenges, prayer requests, praises, things I am thankful for, etc. but to not doubt God in his promises or His plan isn’t as easy for me. I see all the hardship here and the horrific things these girls have experienced and it is easy to let Satan’s voice creep in and doubt why God would allow these things. I do not understand and I know I won’t understand here on earth, but I am choosing to not doubt.

Thank you all for continuing to pray for me and the ministry. I know I am bad at writing these personal updates enough, but for the ministry, I am much better at updating. If you want to receive The Mango Home newsletters, just email me and I’ll add you to the list. We also update our Facebook page called “The Mango Home” regularly so you can follow that page as well to receive more updates!

The Mango Home

I have some exciting news to share that I briefly mentioned in my last blog and that is the opening of a new ministry, The Mango Home, which will help girls who are aging out of the orphan system here in the Philippines.


In Bohol when my parents visited in August.

In the Philippines and around the world, children who age out of the orphan system, whether from foster care or orphanages, have everything against them. These children turn 18 and are expected to be able to provide for themselves and turn into adults overnight. But the reality of these children is heartbreaking. There are no statistics specific to the Philippines but a study done in Russia and the Ukraine by Heart for Orphans says that for children aging out of the orphan system:

  • Only 27% will find work.
  • 30% will become addicted to drugs.
  • 60% of the girls will become prostitutes and/or sex trafficked.
  • 70% of the boys turn to crime.
  • 10% to 15% will commit suicide.

These statistics are overwhelming. I have worked a lot with teenage girls living in children’s homes and orphanages and it breaks my heart to imagine those girls becoming a part of these statistics.

The Lord has put teen girls aging out of the orphan care system on my heart and he connected me with my friend Candace who has also felt the Lord putting the same on her heart. Once we both learned of our shared dream, we could not deny the Lord’s hand working in our lives. When we brought up the idea to our new organization, Agape Impact Ministry, they immediately said yes.

The Mango Home will be a small family home for girls aging out of children’s homes and orphanages. Our goal is to provide a family support system where each girl will be loved, cherished, and know the love of her Heavenly Father. The home will be a place to help prepare these girls to become independent adults through counseling, education, life skills training, and spiritual mentoring.


Helping out at a kids program called A4J (All 4 Jesus).

All of the girls who join The Mango Home will have come from hard places, so counseling will play a big part in their lives to help them heal. I will be able to use all of my TBRI training that I received through TCU to help make the home a healing environment but we will also provide weekly counseling.

Education can change a child’s life so we will provide opportunities for each girl to be able to complete high school and hopefully college if they are able. For the ones that struggle in school, we want to enroll them in trade school or livelihood projects so they will be able to provide for themselves and their family in the future.

Children that grow up in institutions like children’s homes and orphanages often are not prepared with basic life skills to be able to transition into adulthood successfully. At The Mango Home, each girl will learn basic skills like cooking, cleaning, budgeting, grocery and market shopping, using public transportation, and all the other skills they will need. We are praying that we will be able to establish a staff of Filipino women who will play a big part in teaching the girls these skills.

The most import focus at The Mango home will be sharing Jesus’ love. Our core vision and my prayer is that the young women living at The Mango Home will recognize their worth in Christ as beloved daughters, so they can grow into strong and dignified women of God who do not need to fear their future. (Proverbs 31:25) I want each girl to know how precious she truly is and how much her Heavenly Father loves her. Through spiritual mentoring, I hope each girl will be able laugh without fear of the future because she will know how great her God truly is.

Time-line wise, we have submitted our paperwork to become a legal incorporation in the Philippines and are preparing all our documents needed to become a licensed home by the Department of Social Welfare. We are also getting the house set up and preparing to take the first girls in around March or April of 2019! I am so excited and nervous but I know this is the ministry the Lord has been preparing me to do over the past few years here in the Philippines.


Candace, Mateo, and I after a TBRI training session with his parents.

Praises I would like to share:

  • I got the news that my missionary visa has been approved!! I have been waiting for this for so long and it’s finally approved!
  • We found a paralegal who will be able to prepare all our legal documents so that they are done properly. She seemed really sweet and after our second meeting with her, we found out she adopted her two daughters. It is just cool to be able to hire people to do something necessary for the ministry but know that they also have a heart for what we do.
  • I was able to finish training Mateo and his family in TBRI. I have seen a lot of improvements and it has been such a good opportunity to use my training to help educate and fellowship with this family.
  • I have been asked by several organizations to work with them to implement TBRI.
  • We have the opportunity to do some outreach programs with teen girls living in government homes. We’ll start with doing fun craft projects and see what other ways we can help. This will be a great way to develop relationships with government social workers who will be able to help advocate for us getting our license and potentially see if any of their girls would fit into our home.

Prayer Requests:

  • Please pray for the girls we will be taking in. We do not know which girls will join The Mango Home but pray for them and for me and Candace to be prepared to serve the with whatever needs they will have.
  • Please pray for my health as I am still not feeling great most days.
  • Please pray for me as I will start fundraising for The Mango Home when I am back in the States in November and December. It is a big hurdle to tackle. Between tuition, counseling, staff salaries, and day-to-day expenses, the Mango Home is going to cost a pretty penny monthly.

Thank you for your continued prayer and support!



The past two months have been slow and busy at the same time. It has been a lot of waves of busyness if that makes sense. So, I’ll just give an overview of what’s been going on.


Eliana at her first birthday. She had a Moana themed party since that’s her nickname and she looks exactly like baby Moana from the movie.

In June I was able to visit Malaybalay again. I had not been able to go down for almost a year and a half and it was SO good to be able to visit my friends there, eat all the amazing food that I have missed so much and enjoy the cooler weather and mountains. I was even able to see many of my students and their parents from Paglaum Learning Center. I was there for my goddaughter’s first birthday and dedication. This was particularly special to me as I was not able to be there for her birth due to how unsafe Mindanao was last year.

At the beginning of July, we took a trip to Cebu. I had never been before, so it was really exciting to visit a new island here in the Philippines. While I was in the States a few months back, I was able to get connected with a therapist who works with children who have been affected by trauma. She lives in Cebu and I really wanted to meet her and learn from her. Candace, my roommate/co-missionary, and I thought since we were going all the way there to visit her, we should utilize this trip to see other organizations and learn from them as well.



Island hopping was beautiful!

We were able to visit and talk with three other organizations while we were there. One was a children’s home that has their organization set up in smaller foster homes, another takes care of girls rescued from online sexual exploitation, and the other works on the preventive side of online sexual exploitation by educating communities, teachers, families, and children. We learned so much and each organization gave us ideas and advice as we start a ministry for helping girls who are aging out of the orphan system. Cebu is known as a great vacation spot, so we took some time to island hop and enjoy the sand. My friend Jonah and her daughter, Eliana (my goddaughter) were able to join us on the trip which made it extra special.

We were encouraged by the new connections we made in Cebu, but we have been specifically praying for more connections here in Manila closer to where we live. God has continued to answer these prayers by giving us multiple connections close to us. We were able to meet with the director of Philippines Without Orphans and it was so encouraging!


Their organization is connected with many people all around Manila and had many ideas for us and people we should meet and learn from. They are connected with about 30 foster families and when the director found out I am a TBRI practitioner, he was thrilled! This is another thing I have been praying for, that my training in TBRI can be used to help those that are serving children that have experienced trauma and doors are starting to open up to do so! One of the foster families they work with has a 7-year-old son they are in the process of adopting and need some help figuring out how to help him the best. He has multiple special needs which will be challenging but I met with the family a couple days ago and they are eager to learn and I am looking forward to getting to know them and their son as I train them. I will also be meeting with the other foster families that Philippines Without Orphans works with this weekend at a get-together and they could potentially be more families that I can help train in TBRI!


My dog, Pilot, is loving the front porch at the new house and I am too!

I also moved in July. My roommate, Candace, and I have been house hunting for months trying to find a house that met our needs. Houses kept falling through for one reason or another, but we finally were able to secure our new house and can see now what the Lord had planned and why all those houses would not have been as good as the one we have! It has required a lot of blood, sweat, and tears…and a lot of love put into it since it is older and a little run down, but it is getting there slowly. After three weeks of renovations and painting, we were able to move in last week. This house has the potential to be an amazing place of ministry. We wanted to find a house big enough to, in the near future, accept girls who are aging out of the orphan care system and have no family or support system in place to help them become independent adults. And this house has great potential to do this! I will write a blog soon going into more detail about this new ministry.

I have been doing a Bible study over the book of Ezra and the Lord has really encouraged me daily from this study. It has helped me to be able to enjoy the times of waiting (always been a struggle of mine) and also embrace the victories, even if they seem small now, because I know He has great plans in the near future for my life and new ministry.

These are some of the things I would like to ask you to pray for. I have been experiencing a pretty bad flare up with my autoimmune stuff so it has been a painful and exhausting couple of weeks so prayer for my health would be appreciated. Please pray that I can help this new family be able to connect more with their child and give them encouragement. Our new house has a few renovations left, so pray that there are no issues with that. All the paperwork needed to take steps towards starting the new ministry is a lot of work, so pray that goes smoothly.

For those who give financially, I am officially switched over to Agape Impact Ministries. I am trying to get all of my monthly donors transitioned to give through Agape in the near future. To donate, go to and fill out the needed boxes. Make sure to selected Madison Bennett under the ‘appropriate my gift to’ spot.

When you switch over and if you have already been supporting me through Kids International Ministries, please notify me so I can have that donation canceled. Please email me if you have any questions about this process and I would be happy to help!

Thank you for all the prayer and support you continue to give me!

May 2018 Update



Post-season swim party with my volleyball team.

Many of you know there have been a lot of changes in the organization that I have worked for since I moved to the Philippines. I have learned a lot working for Kids International Ministries, but these changes have been often very hard on me and affected my daily life a lot.

Since moving to Manila, I have had the opportunity to live with and get to know a wonderful couple whose passion in life is to see orphans loved and cared for. They started their own organization, Agape Impact Ministries (AIM), to simply serve orphans in whatever way the Lord leads. I have decided, through much prayer and guidance, to work with Agape Impact Ministries where I feel like my education, skills, and passions will be used to help Agape accomplish their mission.


I have had a lot of fun teaching the kids gymnastics and they love it!

I hope to continue to have a relationship with the kids at the children’s home that I have been working at, but this new ministry will give me the opportunities to help educate more individuals and organizations using the Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) that I have been trained in through TCU. I was in the States doing an internship with Kansas Children’s Service League, helping them conduct parent trainings, which gave me the opportunity to practice what I learned from TCU in helping those who care for traumatized children and I now feel ready to apply what I have learned in the Philippines.

I feel God guiding me through every day and am praying for more consistency in my life and work. I cannot tell you how much it means to know you are praying and supporting me through all these changes. For those that finically support me, I will let you know when it is time for my finances to transition over to Agape Impact Ministries and I will help you get that set up.


November Update 2017


Since being back in Manila from the States, things have moved pretty fast. The kids started school in June and it has been full speed since then. They attend Cuatro Christian School (CCS) which is also run by Kids International Ministries. With the start of school also came the start of sport seasons.

Since I have participated in sports since I could walk, I obviously enjoy that some of our kids from NFFCH love sports as much as I do. I knew that CCS did not have a volleyball coach for the high school team this year so I offered to help coach. Three of our girls from the Children’s Home play on the team so it was so fun to get to coach them and get to coach all their friends too! It was challenging to try and train 17 girls when I have never coached volleyball before but I loved it!

The first part of the season was pretty rough but it was great practice for the girls. They may not have won a whole lot but they learned how to work as a team, encourage each other through the tough times, play hard, have a lot of fun, and honor God through their sportsmanship on and off the court.

IMG_1118The last two tournaments were the highlight of the season! The girls placed 2nd in the Dan Landry Tournament and 2nd again at the Buhay Sports Tournament. For both tournaments, we had two girls each time earn a place on the All-Tournament Team which was a great honor and meant the world to them. Both tournaments were hosted by Faith Academy which is such a relaxing environment to play at and they even have wood courts! Since the girls usually practice and play on cement courts here, they love when it is time to play at Faith. It is pretty entertaining to see how excited they get when they walk into the gym!

It was a great season overall and was such a blessing to be able to coach! Some of my players have even asked when we will start training again and it has only been a couple weeks since we finished! It is very encouraging to see how much they enjoyed the season and how their love for the game is growing strong.


Many of you know from reading my past blog postings that there have been a lot of changes within the organization that I work with, Kids International Ministries, but here’s a quick update from the past few months. Several months ago, we closed our Children’s Home in Malaybalay and moved the children from that home to join our New Faith Family Children’s Home in Manila. I made that physical move to Manila along with the children so I could help them adjust to a new family, and also so that I could work with our staff in providing a quality, loving place for all of the children to grow up together.

18901409_1532050690173514_1118593290_oDuring this transition, the decision was made to give responsibility for Paglaum Learning Center over to the local Filipino organization that I had partnered with in Malaybalay. Our hope was that they would continue to run Paglaum Learning Center with guidance from me in Manila and with financial assistance from donors in the States. They have decided to continue, and to expand, the Alternative Learning Systems where teens and adults work toward getting their elementary or high school diplomas. This is a great help to the families of our students because they can earn a higher wage with a high school diploma and can also help their children with school work. But, it was decided that they will not continue the preschool and kindergarten classes you partnered with me to start.


In light of this, we were able to provide all of the previous students with new back packs, school supplies, medical supplies, tooth brushes and toothpaste, soap, rain jackets, and flip flops. The parents understood our situation and were so thankful that we were still able to help get their kiddos prepared to make the transition to their local public schools.

I am sad that Paglaum will not be offering preschool and kindergarten at this time, but I know that God has a plan and that the children you helped me serve were well fed, educated, and shown Jesus’ love over the past two years. I have already received many updates from parents saying how well their children are doing and most of our previous students are honors in their classes! It brings so much joy to my heart that these kids are doing well at school! Thank you to everyone who played a part in these kids’ lives for the past two years, what an impact Paglaum Learning Center had on their lives!


18870360_1532049860173597_1016795607_oOne of the responsibilities I have taken while working at the Children’s Home is writing a monthly newsletter. I am going to include you in the list of people who receive that because it will help you understand what is going on in my life and the lives of the children I help serve. Please feel free to unsubscribe or email me back if you would rather not receive the newsletter updates.


Thank you for praying for me and the kids. You do not know how much it means to me that there are people like you who are praying that my efforts here bring children closer to our Lord and Savior.


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.


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.


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!


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. 🙂

Some Big News



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.


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. 🙂


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.



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.



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 to make a one-time donation; just select Paglaum Learning Center on the drop down box.


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!