It’s Almost School Time!

Paglaum Learning Center will officially open on June 29 provided we can get the container of preschool supplies shipped from the U. S. that is sitting in the bay waiting for paperwork. We changed the name because we felt like learning center described what we want to accomplish more than the word preschool. We will have 26 students who will attend our pre-k classes. We will also have four students who will attend the public kindergarten; we will pay for transportation and school supplies costs, and provide tutoring for them so they can do well since they have no education preparation.

We are going to use one of the existing buildings that we have remolded until we can start building our new classrooms. I was able to raise $1,500 of the $32,000 while being back in the States this last month for the new building and talked to a pastor at a church that might be interested in helping out in a bigger way for the building.

We also now have almost all of our students monthly sponsored!! There are just a few students left to be sponsored $35 monthly. The pictures below are of those students remaining. If you are interested in sponsoring one of these students, email me at madibennett11@gmail.com and I’ll get you all the info. Your $35 a month sponsorship covers this child’s uniform and school shoes; lunch and snacks; transportation to and from school; school supplies; supplies for a class party on their birthday; and part of their teacher’s salary.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me and for this ministry. Also, thank you to everyone who has donated to the building fund and who has started monthly sponsoring a child for this school year!

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Change of Plans

1IMG_6421The last couple of weeks have been very busy for me…like always. We had an international high school come from Taiwan for a week and they helped with our first ping pong tournament and they also ran our three day soccer camp for our kids! It was great having them here and they were such a blessing to the kids.1IMG_6465

There are a lot of preschool preparations that are in the works right now. We had preschool sign up and right now we have 24 students signed up (these pictures are of a few of them)! I am sure we will add a few more before school starts to get to the 30 students I think we can handle. I am in the process of getting registered under the Department of Education here in the 1IMG_6408Philippines so that the preschool can be accredited and this year can count as kindergarten for our older children.  We have two six, almost seven year olds, that have not been to school at all so please pray we figure out the best situation for them to start their schooling.

A huge change in the plan is that we have decided not to use one of our already existing buildings for the school, but to start building a permanent structure that in the future we can add on to. The previous building I had in mind needs a lot more 1IMG_6432renovations than I had originally thought and it is not in the safest part of the land so we think it is wiser to spend the money on our permanent building. The idea right now is to build two classrooms and for sure have one class but maybe add another if I have enough sponsorship IMG_6339for adding more children and hiring another teacher. I will find out in a few days what the estimate of the building will be. Please pray for me and the others making the decisions for the building and please pray for the fundraising for the building and monthly student sponsorships.

Uniforms!

image2 (1) I just wanted to share these pictures with you all! Here is the sample of what the girl’s uniforms will look like at Paglaum Preschool. Isn’t it adorable?? In the Philippines every school requires a uniform, even the public schools. At first I did not think the preschool would need uniforms and we could save some money but after talking with different people, I have learned that it is important that the kids wear one because the parents and the children will take it more seriously and will think of it as a real school. Because of this, we have designed the cutest little uniforms I have ever seen. 🙂 image1 (1)Cha Cha, the girl in the pictures, tried the uniform on at church and refused to take it off the rest of the day because she liked it so much! She felt like she was already at preschool while coloring during my Sunday School class. Thank you all for your prayers as everything is moving forward!

And the Preschool Has a Name!

Everything is happening very fast with the preschool the last week or so. The goal date for the first day of class is July 6th! Usually most schools in the Philippines start the beginning of a new school year beginning or mid-June, but because we are getting most of the preschool supplies and furniture shipped on a container that may not arrive until mid-June, we will need time to set up the classroom. Speaking of this shipment, if anyone has anything they would like to donate from shelves to toys to any kind of school supplies, the shipment will leave from my house in Kansas. My dad is in charge of gathering supplies to ship for the preschool and the other ministries in Mindanao. You can email me at madibennett11@gmail.com or email my dad at dougbennett@kidsim.org.

It looks like we will have two classes three days a week. Probably the three year olds in the morning for three and a half hours and the four year olds in the afternoon for three and a half hours. I have met with a preschool teacher/ administrator here that has a lot of experience with starting preschools and she is going to help the teacher I hire with some specific training for center based and play-based preschool teaching. She is also going to help with future permits and all the paper work that entails because paper work is so not my thing even though I am sure it will need to become my thing soon. IMG_2985

The most exciting step forward right now is we have decided on a name for the preschool! The name will be: ‘Paglaum Preschool.’ Paglaum in Visayan (the language spoken here) means hope. A few months ago I was really trying hard to think of a name for the preschool and the only word that ever came up was the word hope. I have prayed about it and the word hope just keeps coming up all the time from my daily devotion to sermons. For me, it is the perfect name for the preschool because my goal from the start for this preschool is to give the children hope for a better future. Hope that their education in this preschool will help them for the rest of their school years and for the rest of their lives. Hope that they have an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and I pray that every single little child that comes to Paglaum Preschool will have hope in Jesus and will know His never ending love for them.

Birthdays and Hospitals

So this last week I was in the hospital for four days with some stomach infection and a fever… the good news is it is not appendicitis like the doctors were pretty sure it was. I am recovering now, but am still experiencing some stomach pain that will hopefully start to go away soon. (This is seriously a good excuse for not writing a blog in a while, right?) Anyways… IMG_1272

Before I got sick, I had the opportunity to have a birthday party for one of our girls from the children’s home! Since we had a new baby brought to the children’s home in November, I have been spending a lot of time there almost every day helping out with the baby. This has allowed me to get closer to the other kids, especially the toddlers and older girls. Since our children’s home is outside of town and there is no real budget for birthday parties for each child, I decided it would be easy for me to use my house in town for a party for one of the girls. Turns out, girls that are turning 13 like celebrating their birthday with all their friends and eating all the sugar they can possibly eat. The requested snacks were chips, no-bake cookies (that they helped make), cake, and soda. Not the healthiest things in the world but hey, it’s a birthday party! The younger girls watched movies while the older girls helped make cookies and had a fun time being noisy while chatting and taking a million selfies on my phone. All the girls seemed to have a great time, and even though it was a little stressful for me to IMG_1271get ready, it was well worth it to see the smiles on their faces.

When I moved here I did not think I would spend much time at the children’s home because of everything else I had plans to do, but I am so thankful for the relationships I have built with all the kids. Everything might be a little crazier than I had pictured but that’s what makes every day all the more fun.

Pebrero Update

IMG_1182I have been back in the Philippines for a couple weeks now and getting things rolling again! We started up our village outreaches a few weeks ago after a short Christmas break and AWANA last Saturday. Since I have been back, we have had a World Race team of six people here helping out with construction and various ministries. I have been busy helping them out and it has been fun having them down here! This last week, I had my hands full helping take care of a sick baby at our children’s home by spending the night to help out the nannies. IMG_1174I think the combination of being with the baby almost all the time and the lack of sleep has caused me to get whatever she had too. So prayers would be great that I can get over this cough and feverish feeling soon!

I am working on…by that I mean praying to find a Filipino teacher for my preschool. Once I can find a teacher, so many more steps can be taken in opening the preschool! IMG_0490The plan is still to open the last week of June or first week of July. When I was home in the States and in Manila, I was able to meet with different people and share about the preschool and they all seemed interested in being a part of it. It is great to see that it is not just me that can see the vision of the preschool and the need for it here in Malaybalay. Please keep praying for all of the steps and details that need to be figured out, that I can find a good teacher, and that funds and supplies will come in to be able to support it and all the kids that will attend!

Joy!

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Late Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I have had a wonderful time here in the States for the past three weeks or so. I have been able to spend time with family, friends, and many of my supporters…which family, friends, and supporters are often the same people, but anyways it has been fantastic.

I know this is very late, but I wanted to update everyone on how our jumbo Christmas Party went down in Malaybalay. I keep telling myself I need to write this blog and then I tell myself tomorrow…so today is the tomorrow I have been speaking of since I have been in the States.IMG_0591

The Christmas Party was a huge success! We had 2,005 people come!! The day started out crazy like you would expect. We made the last minute decision to get candy to put in all of the present packs early that morning. So after buying that, I helped some people put a couple pieces of candy in all 2,500 packs (the extra 500 packs that were not used since less people came than we expected, were used the next day to hand out at church to those that could not come to the party). Since I was busy helping finish the present packs in another IMG_0923building, I had not been able to see all of the people arrive. When I walked up to our basketball court/building where all of the people were waiting and playing games, I could not control my emotions. It took everything for me to not just start bawling in front of everyone. I am not sure exactly what it was, but seeing all of these people there and knowing that later that day, they would all have heard the Gospel, have full bellies, and have Christmas presents just completely overtook me.

IMG_0984The party went smoothly…well as smoothly as a party for 2,000 people can go. We had games and prizes for the first couple hours while more people were arriving, we had some people come from the northern island to do a unicycle show, our kids that come to our weekly programs preformed Christmas songs, our leaders preformed a skit that shared the Gospel, leaders created small groups so that people could know more about the point of the skit and what it shared, and then we handed out the gift packs and lunches. Seeing all of the kids and parents open up their gift packs was such a joyful experience.  IMG_0902The most amazing thing that happened that day was that 837 people accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior!!!

Even though the Christmas Party was exhausting and I am pretty sure that I have never been that sleep deprived for that many days in a row, it was probably one of the most incredible days I have experienced. Thank you to all who helped make it possible by donating and praying for the party!

December Update

IMG_0346This blog is just an update of what is going on here in Malaybalay. As most of you have seen, there was another super typhoon that went through the Philippines. We were safe down here, but the central and northern islands got hit. It is still raining very hard and flooding in the Manila area.

It is a crazy time here as we are preparing for our huge Christmas party on December 20th…that is in about 10 days!! Our kids are working hard on learning their Christmas songs and our volunteers are doing everything possible to prepare for this big event. We have gotten some donations from the U.S.  that are helping pay for the food and presents for all the people that will come. IMG_0404Thank you to everyone who donated and are praying for this event!

I am still working with my three to six year old kids learning numbers and letters. This last Saturday I taught a kid how to form the number ‘8’ for the first time and his face has beaming with success after he wrote the number on his own for the first time. These little moments give me so much joy.

Another big thing is that I get to come ‘U.S. home’ in less than two weeks!! I am so excited to see my family, friends, and supporters. I plan on hosting a dinner or desert time at my house for anyone who is interested in what I have been doing and will be doing. I will have stories, millions of pictures, and I will be cooking some Filipino dishes for you all to enjoy. I would love for anyone who is available to come! I do not have a set date yet but am thinking a Sunday evening, probably the 4th or 11th of January. IMG_0415I will confirm a date soon.

Again, thank you all for your support and prayers! I could not do what I do without you all! My prayer requests are: Christmas party, safe travels back home, the people affected by Typhoon Ruby, that I can finalize some things about the upcoming preschool before I leave, and wisdom on the preschool as well.

Christmas Party!

10562623_10203856197557423_5884709783467217094_o (1)Every year Mt. Moriah, one of the organizations I work with, does a Christmas party for around 2,500 people! Most of the people that come cannot afford to have a special Christmas dinner or presents for their families. Christmas is HUGE in the Philippines. They start decorating for Christmas in September and you can hear Christmas music playing in the malls in September too, that’s how big it is here. This is why our party is so amazing. Living in a culture that loves Christmas so much but not being able to afford to celebrate it is very sad and makes the holiday season hard for people. Our first purpose for the party is to be able to share the gospel with the thousands of people that come and our second purpose is to provide a party with a special meal and gifts for them and their families.

On December 20th we will start very early in the morning (4 am!) and begin to send out vehicles to pick up the families from their communities. As guests arrive, we will have games and activities to entertain them and give out prizes and snacks. Once everyone has arrived we will begin our program by having a unicycle show. IMG_8301Then the kids that come to our AWANA and Outreach Program will perform their Christmas songs that they have been working on for the past few months. We will then do a skit that shares the Gospel acted out by our different leaders. After the program is done we will split the people up into small groups and have our leaders and leaders from various churches and other Christian organizations that we partner with lead people through the main points of the skit and explain more what the skit means. This is a great way for the leaders to be able to ask them about their relationship with Jesus or if they would like to have one. Once small groups are finished we will serve lunch and give out gifts!

For lunch we will be serving the ever so loved fried chicken, pansit (a Filipino noodle dish), lumpia (similar to a spring roll), and of course what meal would be complete without rice. In the gifts we will put a clothing item, different types of food, and hopefully some hygiene items and toys. The more donations we get, the more things we will be able to put into the gifts.

IMG_8403To cover one person’s meal and their Christmas present, it costs just five dollars! To be able to make this party a success, we need help from people that are willing to donate to bless these people for Christmas. And of course the most important thing that we need is prayer. Our specific prayer requests are: that we will raise the funds to buy everything needed; safe travels for when we are picking up and taking the people home to and from the party; that the leaders will be able to share the Gospel with the people and that many come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior; strength for the leaders and volunteers to be able to make it through this next busy month of preparing for the party; that we will be able to be a blessing to all the people that come; and that all the people will feel God’s love for them.

Here are the ways you can help:

  1. To send in support by check, you need to make the check out to Kids International Ministries or KIM and mail it to KIM,  P.O. Box 1369, Lawrence, KS, 66044. Include a note along with the check indicating the intention of the check is for support of Mt Moriah Christmas Party in Malaybalay.
  2. To give online through credit card, follow this link:KIM Credit Card Donation. You will need to fill out the quantity with the amount of money you would like to send for your support. In the drop down menu select Community Projects, you can type in Mt Moriah Christmas Party later in the process. Add to cart and then select checkout. On the bottom left of the page for checkout is a box for Message and Comments – in the Message and Comments box you need to type in “Mt Moriah Christmas Party, Malaybalay.” Note, any credit card donations will have a credit card fee of 5% of the amount donated.
  3. If you are interested in a monthly donation here is the link to the withdrawal form: KIM Automatic Bank Withdrawal Donation Form.  After filling out the form you can scan it and email to me,frankcherry@kidsim.org, or mail the form to KIM, P.O. Box 1369, Lawrence, KS 66044.

123…

IMG_8318At our Saturday AWANA program we have a class called the Benjamin Class for the three to six year old kids. Many of these kids cannot write or recognize numbers or letters. Even some of the six year old kids cannot write their names. Because of this, my job is to teach the children how to write and recognize numbers and letters at the beginning of their class! IMG_8308I cannot express how much fun it is! We are starting with numbers one through ten, adding a new number each week, and will then start on letters when the numbers are finished. I come up with worksheets that have dotted numbers for the children to trace as well as small pictures of an animal or something else repeated to match the number for the week. I begin talking about the number and ask the children what the number is on the page then I go through and help any of the kids that are having a hard time forming the number. Once the children finish tracing and writing the number, they get to color the pictures on the page.

IMG_7963Here is one of my favorite moments since teaching the kids: this one little boy who is probably four always comes in and stands in the back with no facial expression. I always try to talk to him or get him to participate, but he never wants to. The first day I started doing the numbers, I finally got him to sit down and I gave him a pencil and a worksheet and told him to trace the number isa (one in Visayan) and sulat (write) it in the blank boxes. After handing out the rest of the worksheets to the other children, I walked over to him and he had filled the whole sheet out and was just staring at me. IMG_8003I told him good job and held my hand out for a high five. This is the first time I have ever seen him smile. It was such an encouraging moment.

I really enjoy teaching these kids and look forward to them learning more and more. This is just a taste of what I want to do in my future preschool. I am excited to see what God has planned and when I will be able to open up the preschool…praying for starting this next school year which here in the Philippines starts the end of June but we will see.