Sunday, March 20, 2011

Update 5...New Brothers and Sisters to Love

I wish I could bring you all to where I have been. There is no way that my words could bring you the feelings that flooded me. I don't even know where to start...I guess where I left off..

Tuesday rolled around and my good old pare Richard drove me to the Little Sister's house in Malibay. I was kindly welcomed by Sister Margaret and showed my guestroom etc. and then sat down for lunch with the 4 wonderful ladies. That afternoon I went down to the ELC (Early Learning Center) with Marian who helps out with most of the ELC business.

It was the kinder class, the "older" kids, and let me tell you, I was blown away at what the wonderful teachers have taught these kids. I was blessed to visit at the end of the school year (they graduate this Friday) so I got to see them all at their peaks of this grade. They were learning Phonetics, sounds like "ch", "sh", "th" (which was one of the harder sounds for them) etc. They were learning science: about force and motion. The were learning math: subtracting and adding, counting, matching and more. They were learning history: the history of their country and the religions that inhabit the country. They were writing English for all subjects while learning the definitions. I was blown away. These kids who grew up here had learned so much in their 5 years of life, and some even spoke Taglish/Englishs to me- definitely enough to communicate and know that my name is Erin and I am American :)

They were also practicing a song and dance for their kinder-graduation to the Elementary school. They wanted to impress me so badly with all of these skills, especially because I was smiling so much and affirming that they did "A good job!" They would sing so loud or try SO so hard to dance their little hearts out. There were 3 little kids who couldn't speak English except for a few words, but would draw on their mini chalk boards a "flower" and then pull my hand and show me and I would say "Wow! a flower! Good job!" and they would grin and run off to draw a house or an ice cream haha, they were adorable.

The ones behind all these wonderful skills are the teachers/mothers who have learned those Montessory methods of teaching, and a few younger teachers who actually have a credential. The kids are so incredibly bright and look forward to coming to ELC EVERYDAY. They love it.

Marian and I came back for a delicious dinner, which was little more home-y since they are all foreigners too! We chatted and chatted over dinner and the Sisters exchanged stories of families and "who was doing what" and how well they were doing, or in some cases how bad things were going. I mostly listened, but sitting at those 4 nights of dinner just made me realize how much these women CARE so much for the people they serve. It was checking in with this mother or seeing this father at the market, or how well this other child did in class. They have made Barangay 180 their family and let me tell you, everyone in the barangay loves them too.

I felt like a celebrity, not because everyone was staring at the new white chick, but because I was with "Sister" and was greeted around every corner and every vendor or pedi-cab. "Hello Seester" rang through all the alleys and walkways, it made me feel very safe. Even if a person doesn't really know exactly what the sisters are doing for their community, it doesn't matter- they still realize that they are a PART of it. They are welcomed. Everyone is smiling. And this is where they live...

It is so overwhelming. I feel emotionally exhausted. But, while I was there, there was never a moment that I fell exhaustion or desperation among the people. The few that I talked to with Margaret all had this sense of "Bahala na" or "well that's the way it is" kind of thing. I most of these people just grew up the same way and never get out and so they don't even really realize what kind of state they are living in. They are kind of numb to it. I would love to scoop them up onto a plane and fly to gorgeous San Diego and to my house and feed them and give them a proper bed. That's where it gets so hard. That little daydream of mine will never come true. 

I even think like, okay Erin, your 1000 pesos given to a kid trying to buy rice for his family or donated clothes is not going to help out their LIVES you know? But if you think about it, maybe those clothes will be the ones they wear to an interview and actually get a professional job instead of a pedi-cab driver. Or maybe that bag of rice will last the family another two weeks, where otherwise, their two year old would go hungry until they could find some spare pesos from begging. Idk...just half-baked-Erin point is that no matter what WE think our charity will aid the people, it is the fact that we are giving to serve God, and He will take care of the rest. HE is the one who provides and who saves, not us. That is why I have found so much comfort in Him when I feel like I want to just cry my eyes out.

I hung out at the library too, during the week which actually has about 4000 books! They have all been donated of course by sponsors, mostly those in England or New Zealand from friends of the nuns. The only downfall is that most of the kids are still learning to read English and can't exactly hop right in to Harry Potter. The kiddos are especially in need of early learning books and even more in need of Tagalog books. (I sense a book drive coming on ey?) But remember Reader Rabbit or the books that have pages like "The horse lives in the barn. He is a brown horse."? They need those so they can get the comprehension down. Most can phonetically sound out the English but don't understand it. But even that, impresses me very much.

My favorite day of all this week was Saturday where the special needs kids meet and its kind of a playdate/support group for the moms type thing. You would not believe how much joy these kids have. It is also SO ESSENTIAL that the moms meet and talk and realize that they're not the only ones and exchange ideas/medical advice etc. 

One kid, Yuan has CP and was the biggest wiggle worm you will ever see. He is so bright, and so crafty in the way he literally rolls around, using his feet to push and maneuver his body to be mobile. His mom would lift up the probably 75 lb boy and set him up on the mini slide and he would kick kick his legs to go down with an ear to ear smile. When he was on the floor, he  would put together legos with his feet, use them to open doors and just roll around ha, I'll put up a video of him later...

Then there was Rulaine, a wide-eyed, smiley thing of sunshine in leg braces. I don't really know what she "had" but she can't really sit up or walk on her own. I grabbed this little Cinderella hang puppet and was clapping and nodding her head and Rulaine would throw her head back and smile smile smile. She also enjoyed when I played some Discovery from my iPhone and put it to her ear. 

And then there was Julian. My new little playmate. Ah I had so much fun with this guy. He was CP as well, and pretty mentally disabled as well. He was a drooler :) He LOVED the music so much! We listened and danced to Bob Marley, Discovery and some BEP's. Then I stood him up with is muscles clenching and contracting as I put his arms over my shoulders (I was on my knees) and uncrossed his rigidly straight legs. I was holding onto his middle, the way you would a little 1-2 year old. I would lean with him leeefffftt then riiiiiiiiggghhtt and then wiggle him back in the middle. He just opened his big mouth all wide and smiled with his head tilted back. Then I sat him down after a few times (he was so heavy and tall) and he told his mom "again" in Tagalog haha. So precious. Needless to say, we did it again and again until we had to leave. 

Then there was Cyris. Cyris is a 10 month old who has a fused skull. You know how babies are born with a few plates of skull floating around so their brains can grow? Well Cyris' skull is preventing his brain from developing fully and damaging it thte longer he prolongs any kind of medical help. This disease (I'm not sure of the name) is genetic, and for the whole 10 months of his life, the mother thought that it was because she had done something wrong during her pregnancy. She found out on Saturday that that was not the case at all (through a translater but from Sister Margaret) and lots of tears were shed from that huge release of guilt. I gave some money to Margaret and Richard did too so that we can get Cyris into the hospital asap (he has never been) and get going on the surgery. 

These are the types of things that need some serious funding, otherwise, frankly, some of these kids will just die at a very young age when, with medical help, they could live full lives.
Beautiful Ruvegen (from Update 3 i think)
Stephen and his mom Risa and Lola
Yuan :)
sweet Julian
baby Cyris and his gorgeous momma

You guys, I have a million ideas racing around my head of things we can do- as friends, as a community or church or whatever ha. I know that when I get home, it will be impossible for me to not become completely consumed in helping these people. 

I have much more to catch you up on but, for now, I gotta go to bed for my big day at El Hospicio tomorrow! I'll keep you posted and hopefully write again tomorrow night :)

Gracious and perfect Lord,
You have opened my eyes to see a whole different perspective of your children. My heart is still so swollen for them and I am so excited to do anything I can to make a difference- even if it is only one starfish. 

Lord help me to expose this totally different way of life to those of us who have been so blessed. Let us all appreciate every single bit of what we have, for we truly are living in luxury. Guide us to help our brothers and sisters and make us an army of love and compassion to serve You.

Thank you for my pare Richard. You brought us together to experience so many things and I am so grateful to share in Your love with my brother.

Lord, bless all of those back home who have been praying and thinking about this journey of mine. You know how deeply appreciative I am.

Send me Your spirit for patience in the last 5 days here, to soak up every second, regardless of how much I miss home and how much I miss Cameron. This is Your time, and I lay it all at Your feet. I lay it down.

Bring it on.

I love you, Amen.


The Lambos said...

Ok I'm crying right now and Biruk keeps asking me what's wrong! :)

Wow. My heart is breaking with yours and yet I'm rejoicing because God is transforming you---"no matter what WE think our charity will aid the people, it is the fact that we are giving to serve God, and He will take care of the rest. HE is the one who provides and who saves, not us." This is such a profound truth.

Love you---can't wait to hear about tomorrow. Praying with you.

p.s. AMAZING photos!! Are those all with your phone??

Armand Cordero said...

incredible photos, really interesting post. god bless you and them :)