Sunday, June 16, 2013

Making Progress

It has been a HOT productive, wonderful time in the Philippines working with the children and families who have invited us into partnering with them as they seek to build a new future with hope.  In Upper Javier, the sewing center is being expanded and Alan Miller, our construction supervisor, is employing local labor, creating jobs and stretching the budget like only he can - he barters for every penny we spend to make it go as far as possible.  The expanded sewing center will create more jobs for more community members and the construction is also employing and training community laborers in need of work. The pre-school has a new floor and our teacher, Ate Olive, is excited about school starting again on Monday - the parents are so grateful and contribute by keeping the building clean and preparing the meals that are served each day to the children - for some, the only real meal they have each day. Thanks to the generosity of our donors we have funded another full pre-school year with the Jessica's Table feeding program included.  Bellaire United Methodist Church and St. Stephens United Methodist Church have been particularly generous in this regard.  Thank you!

In Malis, we have three young people finishing  college through Strings of Hope: Rosette is getting ready to take her teacher's licensing exams, Jenny is in her 3rd year toward a degree in education, and Jesusa is in her 4th year at Harris Memorial College.    Rosette and Jenny are also supporting their families as their parents cannot find work.

Jessica's Table continues with 205 children regularly attending and registering and usually 300 children total attending each week.  These children are receiving education and leadership training, as well as nutritional support.The young people from Malis who first participated in this program are now helping to lead it and the mothers and father's in Malis go early to the market to buy and prepare the food.  It is a program fully lead by the community in which it was born.  Because of our reputation in the community, we were also invited into the elementary school for the first time and were able to donate volley ball equipment as well as soccer balls, school supplies, and provide a nutritious meal for children that had not eaten all day - the government here offers public schooling but cannot provide meals, school supplies, uniforms or transportation.   

I have been accompanied on this trip by Rev. Tori Butler and 5 youth from Bellaire United Methodist Church, Elizabeth from St. Stephens United Methodist Church (who is working in Upper Javier for 3 months as a volunteer) and Alan Miller from Memorial Drive United Methodist Church.  We are so grateful for our faithful volunteers! 

The Philippines 2013

Our team has arrived in the Philippines, June 8th 2013

Yesterday I went with a team of college students to the Mallolos Juvenile Detention Center where 95 young men ages 17-24 are house in very close quarters and never get to go outside.  Many of them have been there for years and abandoned by their families - some for serious crimes and others for crimes born out of poverty and simply wanting to eat or addiction.  Here in the Philippines also, a generation is being destroyed through and criminalized for addiction. We are looking at what it might mean to bring healing and hope to these young men whose choices have taken their future and also young women who are victims of abuse of all kinds - both these young men and women are some of the poorest of the poor when it comes to a future with hope.

It is not even the rainy season yet, but here in Obando, a very poor fishing village on the coast, the streets have flooded from last night's rain - entering into the first floor of the houses and the people simply live in the water, even the animals are living up to their bellies in water.  When the typhoons come in the fall it is devastating for those without first floor houses.  Even those with high enough homes are separated from services, food, and drinking water for over a month.  My pastor friends Jordan and Malu, and their two young girls - my goddaughters - are living and serving in this community.  This place, like places in El Salvador, rings with the groaning of all creation that is hoping for restoration and redemption.