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Here are a couple of tributes from Auntie Sandy's retirement party in Minnesota on September 11.

Paul’s Speech

Why are we here tonight? That is my assigned topic as we get the program going tonight.

I want to paint two pictures for you tonight. Both represent endearing images for me for the ministry of CSC.

Healy_speeches_9.20_2One is a cross stitch with a group of owls on a tree branch with these words stitched above them: “There’s always room for one more.” We have made that kind of a motto at CSC over the years. Although we have limits of space, manpower and budget, we always try to be open to making room for another child who needs us badly. This might be a malnourished child found in the street who might not survive another day without the lifegiving care of CSC, or an abused child badly needing the protection of a shelter. There is room for one more. Sandy’s heart is like that. It has an almost unlimited capacity to love more children. And when she loves you, that means that she remembers you, your personal information, your eventual adoptive parents, your accomplishments, everything. We are here tonight because of Sandy’s amazing heart, which has always inspired us at CSC to scoot over a little and let another child in.

Healy_speeches_9.20_3Another image that I have in my mind is a staircase.  It is the staircase that leads up to Sandy’s office above the garage near the Cherne Home in Banawa. The stairs go up the side of the building and constitute a pretty good climb, especially for little ones. Hundreds and hundreds of children have made that fairly steep climb up to see Auntie Sandy. For some it was to have regularly scheduled counseling, or just to say hi and see if there might be a treat.  It was worth the climb. But for many, climbing those stairs meant that the climber was in big trouble. If the house parents sent a child or children to see Sandy in her office, it was usually because of something fairly major that needed her attention. None of these kids hurried up the stairs. They knew that Auntie Sandy would be disappointed in them, that there would be repercussions for their behavior. Being in “big trouble” was never fun, and the stair leading up to her office certainly seemed long and steep.

The person waiting at the top of the stairs was always loving and fair, and, when necessary, firm. She was and is a symbol for what CSC is about. We not only have room on our branch for many kids, but we strive to do our best to provide loving, compassionate care for all of them. That involves meeting their emotional and spiritual needs, but also, it means having rules and expectations. It means that we love them enough to discipline them, even when that is far from being fun. It means that, sometimes, they need to walk up that seemingly long flight of steps to see Auntie Sandy. Away from the other kids. Away from any other distractions. Just one on one with Sandy, and her loving heart. We are here tonight because for the past  years Auntie Sandy was at the top of those stairs, doing her very best to encourage, instruct, love, correct, inspire, befriend and, yes, discipline and introduce them to the One who would enter their hearts and change their lives for eternity.

Cebu City is very much a Roman Catholic city.

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and the Sacred Heart of Jesus are two of the most popular parishes in our city.  In Banawa there is a parish that sort of combines these two, and is known as the The Alliance of Two Hearts Parish. If you have ever visited Cebu and CSC you have almost certainly driven by that church on your way between the CSC office and the Shelter in Banawa. With no disrespect to that parish, and without ascribing divinity where it is not merited, I would respectfully submit that CSC has, for the past 35 years, been the Alliance of Two Hearts: The heart of our Lord Jesus, whose perfect love is at the center of everything we do at CSC, and that finite, fallible but unfailing heart of Auntie Sandy that beats in such an inspiring way for the kids of CSC.

Healy_speeches_9.20_4Bless you Auntie Sandy.

 

Marlys’s Speech

In 1962 Sandy and her family moved to this community, and started attending this church.  My father was the pastor at the time so that is how we met and became close friends immediately.  At that time Constance Evangelical Free was a small country church, located on the corner across the street. 

Sandy and I were extremely active and often whispered and giggled during the service.  My dad would stop right in the middle of the sermon to tell us to be quiet or move to the front pew. Our naughty behavior helped us to understand some of the rambunctious children that we would eventually care for at CSC. 

We went to everything at church; Sunday school, Vacation Bible school, the youth group, and Camp Shamineau for retreats and summer camp.  We went to some of the same schools and graduated from Anoka High school in the early 70’s.  Sandy and I took several trips around the US and to the Canary Islands.  We never dreamed in those days that we would be called by the Lord to be missionaries on the other side of the world. 

When we were children playing together in Constance years ago who would have thought that we would spend 36 years side by side taking care of precious children in the Philippines?

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Working with Sandy has been a tremendous blessing, even in difficult times.  We have had the privilege of working with many wonderful Filipinos that the Lord has called to be partners with us. Sandy was the Child Care Director and worked closely with all of our house parents and counselors, and trained our child care workers. Hundreds of children have been touched by her efforts and her dedication, and will never forget her unconditional love for them, including our daughters.

Sandy has always gone the extra mile to do what needed to be done, even if she worked 12 to 18 hour days, or more.  It was a joy to travel around the island of Cebu with Sandy to visit children who were referred to CSC, and we spent countless hours taking care of sick children in the hospital or in our infirmary. In addition to being Auntie Sandy to all of the kids at CSC she also fulfills that role to adopted children here in the United States.

What a blessing that the Swanson family moved to Constance more than 50 years ago, and I’m so thankful that our friendship has lasted all these years. I can’t believe that the time has come  for Sandy to retire, and I simply cannot imagine being in Cebu without her. One thing that will never change is our love and respect for her, and all of the wonderful memories will be in our hearts and minds for the rest of our lives.  We give God all the praise and glory for using Sandy for the many years that she served at CSC.

Healy_speeches_9.20_7We love you, dear friend.

"Eureka" Moments

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The Science and Math Culminating Activity at Cebu Children of Hope School was an incredibly enjoyable event where students could showcase their passion for science and math through a day filled with thrilling challenges and learning opportunities. Students were divided into two teams—the Einstein and Galilei teams—and they were enthusiastic about engaging in activities that tested their knowledge and teamwork skills.

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The morning session started with entertaining math games that not only sparked healthy competition but also fostered a strong camaraderie. Each level required one student to achieve five correct answers, showcasing their quick thinking and problem-solving abilities. Teams cheered each other on, creating a vibrant atmosphere of unity and collaboration. The math relay further emphasized the importance of teamwork, as students had to combine their mental and physical abilities to navigate obstacles and solve problems.

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The afternoon was dedicated to science, offering students a platform to unleash their creativity and critical thinking skills. They conducted experiments that ranged from crafting bird flyers to attempting the floating egg challenge, exploring the principles behind flight and buoyancy. The 'Protect the Egg' challenge was a testament to their understanding and problem-solving skills, as teams had to devise innovative ways to safeguard an egg using only limited materials.

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Throughout the event, students learned about renowned scientists like Einstein and Galilei, after whom the teams were named. Prizes were given to the students, and everyone felt proud of their accomplishments.

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The Science and Math Culminating Activity was a blast. It showed everyone how fascinating science and math can be when fully engaged. Kudos to the students and teachers for making it such a memorable day!

Small Pain, Big Gain

Mar. 7, 2024By: Zennefer Baya

Kids or adults, men or women, nobody loves to see needles. It's still a needle, no matter how tiny its hole may be or how small it is. Giving vaccines could be challenging as it would hurt the child, the person holding the child, and the one giving the shot in different ways. Poking tiny little arms or thighs with a fluid-filled syringe containing different ingredients that help the body to build immunity against various diseases is not pleasing stuff. However, as adults and advocates of these vulnerable kids, we chose to submit them to these immunization shots because we know it will bring them better protection against illnesses later. That is what love is sometimes, as the scripture says in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Just as the Father sacrificially gave His only son for us imperfect people to have everlasting life with Him, we also, as stewards of these kids entrusted to us by God first before the government, always give thought and act on what is good and for the best interest of these kids.

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When Love is the Key

Feb. 29, 2024By: Shiela Mae Prieto

Love is defined differently by every one of us. It is, after all, a very significant matter. The necessity of this in our day-to-day existence is something we cannot fight or ignore. When it comes to writing, I am an inspired and driven teacher. I enjoy sharing my opinions and thoughts on various topics, including my own experiences. I simply enjoy expressing myself, perhaps to uplift and encourage others to feel comfortable doing the same, or even just to simply tell others about the goodness of God in my life.
I want to share my cooking experience with the sixth-grade students at CCHS. I am blessed for the opportunity given to me. It all began on a lovely Friday afternoon in January, with gathering the supplies and ingredients needed for my students.

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Even though I'm not really into "cooking," I had great joy and excitement while I was preparing. To get compliments from everyone who tastes what we prepare will be fun. While the students started to get inside the kitchen, I was honored and excited. We snapped a quick picture before the activity started. I observed their joy and enthusiasm by their broad smiles. Take a peek at our cooking adventure!

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It's now time to start cooking. The pupils were occupied in chopping the spices. One of the students among the four is already proficient in handling a knife. Even though the others aren't accustomed to it, they're making a sincere effort to learn how to chop spices with care. I could tell how much love they had for each other and how much they enjoyed what they did. Here, "love" is defined as having a strong passion for what you are doing. Despite their lack of experience or fear of getting a cut while using a knife, they persevered and made an effort to successfully mince and grind the spices into little pieces.

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I helped them combine the remaining ingredients once they had minced the spices. All the ingredients (ground pork, eggs, veggies, salt, and other seasonings) were combined in a bowl. I taught them how to wrap after I had mixed them up. Amazingly, they did a great job. They wrapped successfully and neatly. They were able to wrap about 50 pieces, and they started cooking. I love seeing them happy and enjoying themselves. They love to help each other and to accomplish the activity together. They're wrapping and cooking lumpia rolls together. They shared laughter and shared compliments for each other's efforts. We were all happy, and I felt the real ingredient and secret joy of harmonious activity—love.

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It's time to start serving the food! They prepared some drinks as refreshments and arranged the lumpia rolls on paper plates. The lumpia rolls were delicious! After learning and discovering the fantastic taste, we were overjoyed!

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Love is the key ingredient; everything works out when there is love. That was all we knew up until we had the opportunity to eat. The best result arises when love is the key. Unbelievable or impossible things can come true - thanks to the mystical power of the four-letter word love! It encourages us to push ourselves to connect with others' skills, talents, and individuality while also assisting in understanding one another and accepting differences. Indeed, it is a gift from God because He is love. It has no end and is priceless.

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Birthday Prayer

Feb. 22, 2024By: Jinkee Reasoner

Meet a delightful five-year-old who is eagerly anticipating his birthday this month.

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Four months ago, whenever I had a chance to talk with him, the topic of our conversation was always his birthday. He was already excited for his next birthday! But, unlike other children who come up to me telling me what birthday gifts they want to receive, this boy had asked that he and I should celebrate our birthdays together, since mine is in April. He wants me to pray for him on his birthday and that he will pray for me.

This exchange of conversation has been going on since then. What struck me the most is this five-year-old boy giving a particular importance for prayer, birthday prayer to be specific. This is our hope. For children to have a heart of prayer. And for us at CSC, to be picked by the birthday celebrant to pray for them is such an honor. If you are celebrating your birthday or just celebrated your birthday, I pray that you will be a blessing to others and that the Lord will use you mightily!