Monday, March 14, 2011

(Not keeping track of days ha) Update #4

So for all of you that have traveled abroad (Miss Petros and Angrea) I very much sympathize with you for having Montezuma's revenge. Traveler's diarrhea is so gross.

I spent most of Friday resting instead of going to Mall of Asia, but Richard convinced me to still go visit El Hospicio de San Jose at my 3 o'clock appointment. We got very lost and finally got there around 4. Hospicio is a little gem on an island in a river in the heart of Manila and you can only get there by the Ayala bridge (which there are a million bridges in Manila). Once you are on Ayala bridge, you must slow waaaay down to find the tiny driveway to the island. 

We were greeted by Sister Socorro and guided on a tour by a wonderful lady named Anne. So Hospicio is one of the most well known orphanages in Manila and houses orphans of all ages and 90 elderly people as well. They have several different "sections" or programs of care- one for infants, which they have 18 newborn to about 9 months (I think), babies, around 25 from 9-18 mos., toddlers 25 2-4 year olds, countless 5-18 year olds, the 90 elderly, and then about 25 children with special needs ranging from probably ages 4-25 and then one 43 year old. So, they house and care for MANY lives. 

I could go on and on about what exactly they are doing with each group, but needless to say, all of the "patients" and kids are very well cared for and very loved. There are many volunteers, medical volunteers and even medical students working there. They all take shifts with the kids/elderly that need constant care.

Here are a few that stood out to me:
I had the honor of meeting Marie (I think, I couldn't really understand her) who is 99 years old! She is beautiful. I gave her "Mano" which is a sign of respect where you put their hand to your own forehead and she clapped her hands once and said "Wow! You are good!" Haha She also told me that she would love me to come visit her. She was talking mostly in Tagalog but I didn't care. I could listen to her spunky little voice all day long.

Every single one of the toddlers was adorable. All wide-eyed and their visitors and desperately wanting attention. Hospicio is a very well kept place with many loving volunteers, but still, if this was an orphanage in the states we would probably call it "short staffed". There was a small bedroom-sized room with half walls and then half glass on top so you could see the kids, but there were about twenty just sitting in there with one TV on. They seemed pretty content and it was clean but they were still starving for attention. Meggan and Maria- I can't imagine what it feels like to actually get to take one home!! :)

Then in the Special Needs section/dorms there were 8 teen-adult boys, all severely disabled. It was very loud, very overwhelming and there was one "Cuya" or older brother as they call it, trying to shower and dress the boys. If you have ever been around severe cases like these, you will know that it is a very hard task to take care of 8 very dependent adult bodies ha. One boy was rolling on the floor yelling/laughing, one was sitting cross-legged on the bed pushing his hands on his ears and then letting them off, and just kind of looking around the room.

Then there was one boy with special needs who I don't know what exactly was his disability but he was a drooler and I said hello and he shook my hand for a solid minute or so ha. He just smiled and tried to focus on me, just staring and drooling, and shaking my hand. I loved him.

What breaks my heart is that most of these children can't be adopted. This is their life.

Then was the night that I thought Manila was going to get Tsunami-ed. So, SO many prayers to the people of Japan and devastating that something so unpreventable could take so many lives. Maybe this is one of Gods wake up calls...

Then Saturday I got to visit the Orphanage of St. Vincent De Pual, also in the heart of Manila. Sister Nieva Manzano is the 'Mother" of the kids who are all ages 6-18. She is one of those people who you look at, and have to put your hand over your heart and smile because she is so darn precious.

I walked in on a huge Birthday party for "Cuya" (big brother) Beau who is one of the sponsors of the orphanage, so it was all organized and they had an MC conducting games and songs and the whole celebration. I actually had a great time and jumped right in playing with the kids. The girls who were all like 10-16 ALL wanted to be my new best friend- holding my hand, sitting on my lap, playing with my hair, just hanging all over me. They all had very good English so it was great to get to communicate with them. They are so full of life and spirit, I felt like a little girl again.

They gave me a great tour of the facilities after the bday bash, and I made them take turns having piggy-back rides. They're bedroom/s is one huge room with 20 beds and then locker-type dressers for their individual stuff. But honestly, they were just all sisters and best friends. They are growing up together, coping with their lifestyle of being orphans in with the best possible outlooks on life. They are so bright. They were all teaching me Tagalog and I was teaching them Espanol! They absolutely loved my iPhone and all the pictures (especially the ones of my boooyyyyyyfriiiieeend woooooo!!) Ha, they were all giggly and immediately started teasing.

I was honestly so sad when I had to leave. I wanted to hang out and have a slumber party. Sister Nieva gave me a gorgeous Rosary as a souvenir and I got to take some pictures on my phone with all the girlies.

This is one of the places that I would LOVE to send clothes and fun things for the girls. Letters, flip-flops, costume jewelry, craft supplies...I could go on and on, and the girls (AND BOYS!) would be SO STOKED and I know that everything would go to great use and be totally appreciated. So much love there :)

So from the orphanage, I got picked up by Virginia and her husband Larry. Virginia is the sister of Fr. Cecilio, who is friends with my Uncle Godfather Fr. Pat! Fr. Cecilio is the one who helped me coordinate my stay here, so I was so happy to meet this family and see where he grew up. Macukawayan (I think ha) is the name of the town which means "bamboo". I quickly learned that Larry was quite the jokester- always trying to make me laugh. Virginia is one of those Filipinas who looks absolutely young and gorgeous regardless of age. We drove into the "Moraga Compound" which is their own little neighborhood of all family. Virginia is one of ELEVEN kids and all but 3 live in the compound with their own families.

I got out and saw their gorgeous homes and all the cousins playing basketball and preparing for one cousin's Debut, which is like a Quincinera for 18 year old Filipinas. I got to do Kareoke, a Filipino favorite, to "My Girl" and listen to Larry singe "Beautiful girl" to me, ha it twas great. They piled a ton of noodles on my plate and Pizza Hut pizza. Then I got to meet the WHOLE family and take tons of pictures with them, so Fr. Cecilio, I can really say I met your whole fam! They were full of generosity and hospitality :)

After that, I was treated to a night out with Richard, his brother Duke, 20, his sister Jackie, 22 and her two friends. We went to the coolest club in Manila called Republiq, also owned by the Chinese guy who owns a few clubs in Vegas. The music was a little House-y for me, but I had a great time living the local nightlife.

The next day was Sunday, and I got to sleep in!! I seriously just rested all day, read some Word and got to call my man and the fam back home.

Cameron told me to read John 3, and verse 30 stood out to me and exactly how I want to live out the rest of my life:

"He must increase, but I must decrease."

Can you imagine what life would be like if we really lived that out? The less we filled our lives with earthly things things and things and made room for MORE HIM. As Taber and Charles would say, there would be a huge dub-step drop inserted here ____________!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! haha, but I mean, how simply and beautifully put by our good brother John. HE MUST INCREASE, BUT I MUST DECREASE. It is so simple, and so powerful to me. Less me, less distraction, less empty stuff, less selfish- more Word, more prayer, more community, more relationship, more HIM. Easier said than done, it is a struggle every single day, but it is my goal.

A goal that is rather high, but hey, like Michaelangelo said, " The greater danger for most of us, is not that we aim too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."

Chew on that huh? :)

Then I went to mass with Lola and got to marvel at the beauty of a faith-filled and engaged community of Christ coming together to celebrate our life saved by His death. It is so powerful to- in the midst of language and culture barriers- be saying the same prayer with 200 other people. The "Our Father" has gained a much greater appreciation in the mind of Erin Murphy.

After mass, Tita took me to buy a new camera, which is why I can now put up PICTURES for you all!! :) (Just so you know, some of the orphanages don't allow pictures so I snuck a few, but they're only on my phone)

Today, Monday, was probably one of my most favorite days here in the Philippines. Lola and her friend Sister Palma, along with Ernie our trusted chouffer, went to Tagatay. Tagatay is another jewel of the Philippines, a town nestles in luscious mountains and above a huge lake and volcano. It was even greener than Subic Bay, if that is possible, and the weather was nice and cooler and breezy.

Sister took us to an orphanage called The Chosen Ones, which houses many children and children with disabilities of all ages. It is a gorgeous institution of structure and organization and care. A nice woman toured us around the "village" where they have classrooms, housing, physical therapy facilities and pool, indoor basketball court and a small piece of land for growing coffee! The older special needs kids help grow, harvest and roast the coffee beans and sell it locally. The caretakers are all PTs, nurses and well trained "ates and cuyas" or elder sisters and brothers. I was so impressed at the well kept playground and how smoothly everything was run. It seemed like kids are adopted often there, mostly because the orphanage works closely with the DSWA (Department of Social Welfare and Development) so that the children can be adopted more easily. At the same time, it was very structured and very different than the other orphanages I have been to here. Regardless of my obvious slight distaste, but inspiration in organization, ALL of the children were of course adorable. When I met the special needs kids, a few ran up to me and one immediately grabbed my arms and wrapped them around his chest with his back to me. All he probably wanted was affection and to be loved on, but to me, it was more- he put my right hand right over his pounding heart. He had that pumping, loving, desperate human heart, just like mine. I could've stood there forever.

The next place we went was the Bahay San Jose, a project of House with No Steps. It isn't really an orphanage, but a home ran by a mother who houses 10 severely mentally and physically disabled adults. Mama Luds, Lourdes Brual, is the mother of Maloa who has cerebral palsy and is about 35 years old. Mama Luds and another mother of a special needs daughter help care for these glowing souls. They have a simple home donated by the Knights of Columbus (ironic that they helped sponsor my trip ha) and really just kind of hang out. They eat breakfast, go in the sun, watch TV, do minor activities, get cleaned etc.

Mama Luds is a very humble and happy person. She was so excited to have visitors and so were the "kids" as she calls them. Mama has no medical background, just what she has learned by being the parent of her special needs daughter. Everything she does is just out of pure love. She has very little funding and has to pay out of pocket as well. When the kids get sick she must take them to the hospital which is of course very expensive (another future donation for sure).

Here are the two kids who were very responsive to me:
Phil John, who I'm sure has a million medical problems but was very alert and kind of hyperactive. He is wheelchair-bound but was wiggling all over and making lots of noise when he saw visitors. He was laughing so hard! I said hello and touched his hand and he was just so excited haha, he loved being talked to.

Then there was Yolanda, who was actually kind of quiet at first. She had this attitude of "oh-whatever-you-won't-pay-attention-to-me-anyway" until I asked her if I could sit down. Honestly, it was one of those moments where I wanted to interact with her, but didn't know the extent of her disabilities or how responsive she would be. I asked her what her name was and she let out a big yawn-sounding noise, like she was trying SO hard to say YOH-LLAANDAA! Sometimes we judge the ability of a person by their looks, when really, we have no idea what is going on in their minds. I said "Oh, nice to meet you...(a little awkward pause as we both looked around) have a beautiful smile." She gave me the widest smile she could, teeth and all, until her mouth would not stretch any wider. I said, "Wow, you understand English?" and she let out a yawn-like noise again. I felt like even though she wasn't speaking any language that I knew, we were communicating perfectly. Then the Black Eyed Peas song The Time came the radio, and I tested her dance skills :) "Do you like to dance?" That woman raised her arms up and tried to do the invisible microphone, yawning her noise and moving to music with me. I danced with her and she got even MORE into it. It was a great moment. Lola brought her little Chihuahua Loco and one of the other girls was petting him. I asked her if she liked dogs, of course she said yes, so I asked big or small? (using my hands to help communicate) and she threw her arms out big, and I said me too! (esp. because our last dog was a Mastiff ha). I just loved this girl, and I know that there is such an intelligent mind in there and wonder what really goes on in there. I can definitely say that regardless of her condition, she was very happy and very loved.

Lola couldn't stay for long, but it was a blessing to be able to meet the family and witness that truthfully, all you need is LOVE.

We had a gorgeous lunch over gorgeous views and a gorgeous drive home. I put up pictures on facebook, but they are only a sliver of the beauty here.

My dearest friends and family- I am so thankful for all of your prayers, seriously, I believe it is the reason why I am being so moved over here. But, this week, for the next 5 days starting tomorrow, I will be staying with the Little Sisters of the Assumption (Sister Anne and Margaret) in Malibay, Pasay City. It is a bleeding little community of people living in total poverty. I'm nervous ha. I'm scared and intimidated. I know that I will be safe, but I just know that I am throwing myself into a very non-comfort environment. I will have a bed and shower and kitchen in the nun's house, but Manila is a very dirty, polluted place...mosquitos, illness, etc. and I guess what I'm saying is..

Keep the prayers comin!! :) I am very excited too, I just don't really know what to expect ha, and I feel like a little Valley Center girl walking into the "ghetto" you know? And I can never prepare myself for the things I will see. The nuns encourage pictures for the exposure of human life and rights to those who have NO IDEA what its like. Its a different kind of poverty than our "ghetto" or "Projects" or bums on the street.

I won't have a computer so I'll journal everything and then put it up on Sunday.

Sorry this is incredibly long, but I am so touched that everyone is keeping up. My mom sends encouraging words all the time and stories that all of you are reading and praying :) I love you all.


Heavenly Father,
Prepare my heart in ways that I cannot explain. Armor me with your spirit and Word and soften my heart even more so that I may help ANY brother or sister no matter how sick or disturbed I may feel. Bless the Sisters with endurance, that they may always do the work of Your Son. Thank you for sending me the best of tour-guides and all the living saints that I have been walking with. They are wonderful examples of how we all can be holy and turn our lives completely over to You. Help us all to decrease, so that you may increase. 

I pray for all of the sick and mentally and physically challenged. Lord, if it is your will, save them from the confines of their disabilities, only if it is Your will. If not, my God, send them angels for peace and contentment for the rest of their lives.

I pray for Aunt Kate and my old man on their birthdays and thank you for such a great, strong family. I am so blessed. 

Thank you for everyone who has helped me get here, right here, at this point in my spiritual journey.

Give me patience to focus on You, even when I am missing my love so much.


1 comment:

Heather said...

If you get a chance check it out. If you are ready to get your hands dirty and have a ton of fun this would be a great experience for you.

Love Ya!