Here 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! We 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.
We 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.
Another 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.
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.
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 email@example.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!
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. 🙂 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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email my dad at email@example.com.
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.
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.
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…
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 get 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.
I 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. I 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! The 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!
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.
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 building, 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.
The 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. The 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!
This 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. Thank 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. I 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.