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July 7, 2014

Never Say Never

 

“Momma can I go to school here,” Kendall asked in a serious tone.  “I just really want to. I could make a lot more friends and learn how to speak Ilocano and Tagalog a lot better.” 

            “You’d have to wear one of those uniforms,” I said, knowing how much she would dislike wearing the plaid skirt and white poofy-sleeved shirt.

            “I know,” she grimaced.  “But I can do it.”

            “You’d have to ride the tricycle there and back every day.”

            “That would be fun,” she shrugged.

            “Have you seen how many kids they pack in those things?”

            “We’ve done it before.”  She smiled.

            “Are you sure?” I questioned before I took this to the next level… (Daddy)…

            “Yes!” she gleamed.

            “OK let’s ask your Dad, but even if he says yes, I don’t know if they would allow you in.”

            John’s response was, “How about you Riley?”

            “Uh, I’m ok…” responded Riley as if his sister had lost of her mind.

 

I really did not think they would let her in because I had no proof of her grades as the SOS program they were using for home schooling locked up and refused to let me in.  All she had in hand was her birth certificate.  She went with a friend and that was it… she came back with a big smile on her face.  My thirteen year old daughter was enrolled in a public high school in the Philippines!  Her first day was Monday, June 2nd.  Summer breaks in the Philippines are from the end of March to early June. 

We all eagerly awaited her return home on the first day.  She had left the house before 7:00 a.m. and would return home after five p.m.  School days are long!  Riley was acting strange that day like he was in deep thought.  I hadn’t seen him for a while and found him in his kubo reading his Bible.  I asked if he was okay because he had been in there for quite some time.  He just nodded and didn’t share anything more, like teenage boys do, and I left him alone.  Later that day, before Kendall’s arrival, he said the most shocking words I have ever heard come out of my boy.  “Momma, I think I want to go to school.”  I immediately checked for fever and he snickered.  We talked about it for a while and basically what it boiled down to was weighing the odds… home school versus public school.  Spending his day with his Mom drilling him because we had to play catch up from late ordering and having to wait for materials to arrive, and then possibly splitting wood, skinning bamboo, or whatever other tasks his father had for him.  I think the scale started to tip.  He drilled Kendall with questions when she got back home.  The scale started to tip back a little when she told him about the morning stretches and exercises, and especially when she demonstrated them.  We all laughed at the thought of Riley doing what she was doing with countless eyeballs watching him.  But in the end, he went with her the next day, birth certificate in hand.  I am telling you… these kids of mine are brave… a lot braver than I ever was at their age.  John was floored too.  We still remember them saying on more than one occasion, “I could never go to school here,” with great emphasis on the word never… just like I remember saying, many moons ago, I could never be a missionary and live in a third world country.  Never say never.  I think God likes that word.  🙂

 

 

Appearances

 

I’d really like to call and make myself a hair appointment right about now, or soak in a ridiculously hot bubble bath.  I have these lines on the heels of my feet that seem to be permanently stained the color of mud.  And I have a toenail missing…  Yep… it just flat came off, and not without pain mind you…  Kendall lost her big toenail about a week before me.  This is not a usual thing for us.  My best educated guess is that we got sand stuck up in there, that eventually got infected, and caused our nails to die…  At what age do people experience a mid-life crisis?  Does waving at yourself in the mirror, to see if your arm is actually flapping back at you, fall under that category?  I got some things going on here people and sometimes it is hard to feel pretty here.  Going through a mid-life crisis in a third world country may not be highly recommended by most physicians.  I listened to David Platt as I was cleaning and he was talking about when we dress, do we look in the mirror thinking, does this make me look good, or does it make God look good?  Once I heard that, my pitty party was gone… well mostly… 😉  I can’t deny that if the opportunity arose to pamper myself that I would jump at the chance.  But for now, I can live with the fact that my appearance brings glory to God and I can be highly satisfied.  🙂

 

 

 

“We’re Going to Church”

 

The old man, whom we call Junior, comes by regularly, but not yet on Sundays.  On Sundays, we still see him walk by on his way to the Jehovah’s Witness building and wave.  One day he came by while John and Lee were skinning bamboo in preparation for building the kubo for the kids to have a place for Sunday School.  I am not sure how the conversation got started but the man went back home to get his “Bible” given to him by JW, and not the same as the Holy Bible.  John was showing him the truth of God’s word and Lee was translating.  Junior pointed out proudly that his Bible was from the U.S., and opened it to show them, when he suddenly yelled out in shock, “Japan?”  (printed in Japan).  J  One day, I think this man will see the truth. Please pray with us for him.

            It is pretty cool because while they were working on the bamboo, kids started coming and many started helping.  How cool is it that the children were skinning the bamboo for their own school room?  I think that is pretty awesome!  We have since   talked about creation, Adam and Eve and their sin, Cain and Abel and Seth, Noah and the flood, and we also talked about the Parable of the Sower.  John had an awesome idea to give each child a tomato plant because we had extra.  So after we talked about the sower, they each got a worksheet and a plant and John told them that we would have a contest.  Whoever has the first tomato has to come tell us but leave it on the vine and John will go see it at their house… (another way to get foot in the door to the parents).  We have about twenty children now with more and more curious eyeballs standing at the gate.  Usually when I have taught before in the other places, the children already know many of the answers before I ask… but here, they really don’t know anything about the Bible.  They even thought Adam and Eve came from bamboo.  Lee explained that there is a song they are taught in elementary that says that. Then the older boys in John’s group further explained that that is why boys have an adam’s apple… because Adam ate an apple and choked on it and it got stuck.  🙂  John explained about Adam and Eve eating the fruit and why it was a sin and their punishment… That night as we lay in bed, John was saying, “Bamboo… can you believe that?”  I said well our schools teach that we evolved from monkeys and that the world began with a big bang… so sure I can believe that.  🙂 

            Even though most things turn out well in the end, it is not always easy, in fact it usually never is.  My very first teaching session with the kids began with two boys throwing punches at each other.  Most every lesson, there is usually a small child or two, on the side, uninterested and screaming or crying while I am trying teach the others.  When I was teaching about the Sower, I had drawn pictures of each description of the seeds.  After the lesson I asked which picture they wanted to be, and many hollered out, “the bird!”  I had to rephrase and say, if you were the seed, which picture would you want to be?  Then they said the fourth picture (the big healthy, thriving plants)… whew.  🙂  It has been raining cats and dogs and our yard gets pretty flooded but the good thing is, it makes it cooler, and we now know where all our leaks are.  Sometimes the new kubo is too wet and we have to crowd onto the porch but it brings us closer.  😉  One Sunday we were wondering where all the children were, and learned from one of them that the owner of the property told the kids to quit coming here.  So John prayed and went to ask her about it.  She explained that she thought they might be bothering us or stealing from us and that their parents were saying they were ashamed that their kids were always coming here.  The Hoy Spirit worked it all out and they were all back here again.  She did also say that she saw the older two boys walking one Sunday morning and asked them to do something for her and they asked if they could do it later because they were going to church.  She said it was nice to hear that.   

 

 

Loving Them

 

There is a little girl named Princess who has been joining us on Sundays.  I was speaking to her when the other kids explained to me that she is mute… only she cries and makes many other noises.  So we were thinking maybe she can’t hear.  One day she was playing at our house and kept crying and crying.  Every time I would pat her head or help her up and wipe the sand from her arms and legs.  Every time she would stop crying and resume her playing, but it was like she wanted attention and she would not stop until someone noticed her.  She doesn’t attend school and it seems as though the other little children are mean to her at times.  I have caught some of them whining at her and even Angel, at one time, was making noises at her.  I talked with Angel and told her not to do that, that she should try to help her and to speak words to her.  Angel became her helper that day and began doing what I was doing when she would fall and cry.  She would wipe the sand from her hair and bring her by the hand away from the boys who were messing with her.  We had the awesome blessing of having an American couple, with an awesome ministry, come and stay with us for a few days. The man lived here in the Philippines as a teenaged boy and it is completely refreshing to hear his stories, and quite hilarious at times.  He was telling us about his pet monkey… (Kendall thought it would be a good idea for us to get on of those to help control the lice population.)  Now, they travel all over, having expanded their ministry to, not only the Philippines, but to Bangladesh, Vietnam, and possibly other places.  I don’t really know what all their ministry entails but I do know it involves Bible schools, def schools, orphanages, providing clean drinking water, etc…  And John and I will have the opportunity to visit the orphanage in Manila in early August.  I am super excited about that!  I will get to hold lots of precious little babies and laugh and play and just poor my love into the others. There are 44 children there as of now.  Anyway, one of the awesome things about their visit is they got to spend a little time with Princess and show her a few words like tree and bird.  I was watching how she communicated with her.  She said the main thing is to make sure she’s looking at you and to use actions, like a thumbs up.  While they were here Liam became really interested in sign language and learned the entire alphabet, several animals, mother, father, yes, no… When we go to visit the orphanage, they said they will give me a signing book so we can learn more.  Liam is all about that.  I asked him if he will help little Princess and he seemed excited to do so.  He asked if he can have sign language tests as part of his home schooling. 🙂  Another awesome thing about their visit is the encouragement they gave us.  They have been gone for two days now but we still feel like we are walking on clouds.  🙂  Our devotion one night was out of 1 Corinthians.  “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.  He said you know this is what you guys are doing… you’re loving these people and that’s what it’s all about.  He had tears in his eyes and mine leaked too as I thought about how I love them.  Those little kids are sometimes here all day long and some are no bigger than my knee (and I am pretty short).  They crave attention.  Just the excitement I see on their faces to know that I remembered their name…it’s simply beyond description.  (Thank you both for the blessing of your visit and for the much needed encouragement… can’t wait to see you again in August!) 

 

 

Drawing in the Sand

 

Princess came over again and Liam noticed her right away.   I peeked around the corner to see him drawing in the sand trying to show her something.  She laughed a lot.  He spent a few good hours with her, holding her hand so she could balance as she walked up the bamboo pole, sitting her on his bike as he walked it around the yard.  Later he told me that he was pointing to letters and showing her how to sign them.  He said but Momma how can I teach her if she can’t hear the sound?  I told him that it may take a while but there are ways she can learn and we’ll just have to find them.  He nodded in assurance.  That boys heart is a soft as they come. 

 

 

A Cross in the Sand

 

A wet kubo means a lot of kids on the porch.  It went well though.  John moved his group into the boy’s kubo / hut.  Instead of just his two that we’ve been mentoring, two more came today, which is awesome!  They are all cousins and are all fourteen, or one will be soon.  I was not in there but when John came out he said, “Heaven is rejoicing today.  They all committed their lives to the Lord… and God is smiling down on Lee, he is His good and faithful servant. We need to keep them in our prayers.”  Please pray for them too!  Please pray that they will stay committed to coming, and to learning, and to fighting temptations with the strength of Christ, and not the flesh. 

Later we went down to the beach and had our usual crowd which tends to grow each time.  One of those boys was working hard carving in the sand.  When we walked up to see what it was, we saw a large cross and our hearts rejoiced.

 

 

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Loraine Millican permalink
    July 7, 2014 10:10 pm

    Loved reading the blog. I love you! Mom

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