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I recently came across this letter that I wrote 16 years ago. I was amazed how much it applies to our current situation. I made a few small changes to "bring it up to date," but mostly it can stand alone, reflecting the similarity of our situations both then and now.

Dear Friends,

A few years ago my brother Dave sent me an advertisement from the St. Paul paper announcing a B.J. Thomas concert coming to a casino in Minnesota. It was meant as a joke, but it brought back a flood of memories, some of them pretty grim ones.

In 1978 a small group of us were trying to raise money to start a ministry in the Philippines. We were concerned about the needs of homeless and hungry Filipino children. But none of us had experience in fund raising! We tried everything, from donut and candy sales to supermarket collection cans and marathons. Finally, after having raised almost nothing for our efforts, we got the idea to have a benefit concert. We decided to have B.J. Thomas come to the Minneapolis Auditorium, and one of our group members put up the money to book him and his group and to pay for the initial promotion of the concert.

The concert was a disaster. The auditorium held about 10,000 people;BJ less than 3,000 showed up. I'll never forget the feeling of standing in the lobby waiting for the crowds that never came. We couldn't pay the orchestra, the ticket office, the printer, the radio stations or the newspapers. There we were, a group of youngsters with a desire for a ministry in Cebu, surrounded by angry, threatening creditors. It seemed like our organization and our dream for an orphanage were dead. But for some reason we didn't give up. We still felt called to the Philippines and a ministry to homeless children. Somehow we managed to placate the creditors, make small but consistent payments, and pull ourselves out of the hole that the B.J. Thomas concert had put us in. Within a few short weeks we received a donation of $40,000 from a Bethel College student and we were on our way to Cebu to begin the ministry. All our plans and efforts to raise funds had netted us a pile of debts and a load of frustration. But God's miraculous work in the heart of a young man resulted in enough money to purchase property in Cebu and begin the work.

That has been a lesson we have learned so many times over the years. God reminds us that this is his ministry and that He will provide the resources. He is continually touching the hearts of people, who respond with gifts of prayer, money and time. We know that it is not just the words that we write or the quality of our visual presentations that bring in the funds. It is how God uses those efforts to bring people into the CSC family. Our efforts are inadequate, even pathetic at times. But God takes our faith and commitment (although sometimes found lacking) and makes something great out of them, in the work of the ministry in Cebu and in the promotional efforts in Minnesota.

This fact has kept us going through difficult times over the past 37 years. In recent weeks we have been discouraged over the behavior of some of our children. Some have been unruly, others disrespectful. Some have been unloading some of the emotional baggage that they brought with them to CSC. And, at the same time, we have been concerned with the financial situation of CSC as we approach the year-end needing a miracle to meet our income goals for 2016. But our discouragement is tempered by the knowledge that God directs this work, that He gives compassion and perseverance, not only on that night in 1978 when we limped home from the Minneapolis Auditorium, but every day since.

Thank you for your part in helping us with this ministry for the past 37 years. When the raindrops were falling on our heads, you were there to put up an umbrella of love and solidarity. We need your prayers and your gifts to be able to move ahead with this God-inspired ministry.

Sincerely,

Paul Healy
Cebu City

Embracing Hope

Jun. 10, 2024By: Teacher Lyrah Ann

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The Cebu Children of Hope School recently marked a significant milestone with its annual Moving Up Ceremony and Recognition Rites. This celebration symbolized the incredible resilience of its students in overcoming extraordinary challenges. The event commenced with a processional and an uplifting opening prayer, setting a tone of gratitude and hope that resonated throughout the ceremony.

The Field Director's welcoming address underscored the importance of this milestone in the students' educational journey, prompting a moment of reflection on how far these young minds had come. Emotions rose as the Principal recognized the candidates for completion, celebrating their hard work and dedication. It was a moment of joy for the students and everyone who had supported them along the way. The ceremony also recognized non-completers, honoring their efforts and progress. This segment highlighted the school's commitment to helping every student on their path.

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One of the ceremony's highlights was the guest speech by the Executive Director of Phase Two Cebu Group. In it, he emphasized the transformative power of education and the value of perseverance. Another standout moment was the gratitude speech by a Grade Six student. Her words were a touching reminder of the impact of community and support:

"When I arrived, everyone was a stranger to me, and making new friends was challenging. I questioned whether I'd ever find someone to help me until a group of people stepped in to offer their support and encouragement, bringing joy, peace, and kindness into my life. Without these people, I would never have realized my dreams.
You've all been like guiding stars, leading me toward my goals with your teachings, encouragement, and big hearts. Your presence here has made perseverance and consistency possible. Above all, I thank God for placing me in this special place. I surrender all my doubts to Him and am grateful for His forgiveness through His
son, Jesus Christ."

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Her heartfelt words touched everyone present, emphasizing the significant impact of the community's support. The celebration continued with awards for the completers, celebrating their exceptional achievements. The Kindergarten and Grade Six Completers performed their completion songs, adding a joyful and celebratory atmosphere to the event.

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As the ceremony concluded, it marked both an end and a new beginning for these resilient students. It was a day filled with laughter, tears, and deep camaraderie. It was a day to celebrate their journey and eagerly anticipate the bright futures that lie ahead.

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Edible Happiness

May. 24, 2024By: Home Life Team

Ever wonder how we prepare meals for 20 children in one house daily? Our long-time cook, Auntie Helen, prepares a delicious and healthy lunch for our children in Cherne Home. Our cooks enjoy seeing our children join the empty plate club, which means the food is delicious, and the children are satisfied! Here is a snippet of lunch preparation in Cherne Home.

"The Bow and the Arrow"

May. 9, 2024By: Counseling Department

Children are explorers. Curiosity often leads them to peek Screenshot_2024-05-09_at_5.21.37PMinside the doorknob's key hole; enthralls them to touch a squealing kettle; and ferry their feet into places where they are not allowed to be. Often, boundaries are broken.

Children are expressive. Emotions often steer their ship as they navigate their social world. They jump, giggle, grin, and laugh when happy. A frown, a downturned face, and a shoulder-drop paint their sadness. Talking back, kicking the wall, shutting down, spitting, throwing things, and crying are the easiest cards to pull out when they are angry. Often, adults' patience is challenged.

Children, most of the time, do not listen, nor take heed of instructions and reminders; they have a loose grip of morality that even memory verses fall short of reminding them to be good. But this does not mean we stop teaching them to be kind. This is to remind us that children are fallible and that they do not have the skill sets to fully self-manage; even adults have difficulty regulating themselves, too. And children who misbehave a lot are often painted with a different color palette, viewed as a problematic child.

Screenshot_2024-05-09_at_5.21.51PMAt CSC, children do not only go through these developmental obstacles. They are also bringing with them their adverse experiences. For some children, this baggage magnifies their difficulty to self-regulate. Without a proper lens, dealing with these children might be quite challenging. As adults, the common response is to control these behaviors but with the aid of Trauma Informed Care, houseparents, caregivers, and other staff have a better understanding of the underlying factors of such behaviors. Rather than seeking control, comfort is offered. Rather than spending time preaching the rules and whatnots, cultivating a relationship is the focus. Rather than seeing the child as problematic, the child is seen as a work in progress, still growing to reach his/her full potential, and to give the child a chance to lead a more meaningful life. Through Trauma Informed Care, we are always reminded with how Khalil Gibran viewed how children should be guided. In his poem, he said:

"...You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
 For they have their own thoughts.
 You may house their bodies but not their souls,
 For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
 You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
 For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
 You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
 The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
 Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
 For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."
Khalil Gibran, excerpt from On Children

One Light Tube At a Time

May. 6, 2024By: Mark Leop

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Within the borders of the shelter, the facilities maintenance team plays an essential role in ensuring the physical environment reflects the warmth and love that these children deserve. Our tasks extend far beyond fixing leaky faucets or repairing broken doors; we are entrusted with the responsibility of sustaining an atmosphere where hope can grow.

The team's recent activity was replacing the dim, outdated lighting fixtures with vibrant, energy-efficient tube lights that transformed the ambiance of the homes. Where once there was gloom, now a radiant glow spreads throughout the corners, giving a sense of joy.

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For the children, the newfound brightness serves as a symbol of hope, a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there are those who care enough to bring light into their lives. The simple joy of being able to read a book without straining their eyes is a blessing that many take for granted.

Seeing the smiles of the children motivates us to undertake more works and activities that not only improve the physical environment but also uplift the spirits of those who call this place home, one light tube at a time.

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Easter Celebration at CCHS: A Joyful Time of Togetherness and Introspection

Apr. 22, 2024By: Teacher Mae

At Cebu Children of Hope School, Easter isn't just about chocolate and colorful eggs – it's a time for friendly
competition, laughter, and unforgettable memories. This year's Easter celebration was no exception, as
students, teachers, and staff came together for a day filled with thrilling games and challenges that brought out
the competitive spirit in everyone.

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Dancing and Singing Songs:
Easter songs sounded in the big room as students gathered for a special assembly to start the day off. We sang songs that spoke of hope, resurrection, and renewal, which filled our hearts with the spirit of the occasion. The environment was infused with energy as students and teachers performed lively dances with an Easter theme, showcasing their inventiveness and enthusiasm after the upbeat music. 

Discovering the Significance of Easter:
It was essential to pause among the celebrations and consider Easter's more profound meaning.
Students learned about Easter's biblical and historical background through lively discussions and
interactive video presentations. Easter tells the account of Jesus' resurrection, which helps people
appreciate and value our holiday more deeply.

Easter Arts and Crafts:
Creativity was blooming as students engaged in various Easter-themed crafts and activities. Each activity allowed self-expression and artistic exploration, from coloring eggs to designing eggs. These hands-on experiences not only sparked imagination but also encouraged students to feel fulfilled.

Egg Blowing Contest:
The Egg Blowing Contest followed, where competitors tested their lung capacity in a match of breath and skill. Competitors tried to blow their eggs across a marked finish line using only a hollowed-out egg and unwavering resolve. Cheers broke out as the eggs raced through the floor, driven only by the competitors' breath. Everyone was on the edge of their seats throughout the entertaining and exciting Egg Blowing Contest.

Walking Eggs Contest:
It was the Walking Egg Contest, which tested participants' balance, coordination, and willpower. Using spoons held in their mouths, participants carefully balanced eggs as they made their way through an obstacle course. The contestants' constant fear of losing their precious cargo made the competition much more suspenseful. As competitors crossed the finish line with their eggs remarkably intact despite the odds, the crowd cheered them on.

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Prize or Challenge:
Inside each egg, an enjoyable task or a treasured prize awaits everyone, heightening the celebration's mystery and excitement. Rewards might be anything from candies to tiny trinkets. On the other hand, challenge activities allow kids to work on tasks that promote creativity, confidence, and collaboration.

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As the time began to end on another memorable Easter celebration at CCHS, laughter echoed through the air and smiles lit up the faces of all who participated. Through games and challenges that tested skill and spirit, we came together as a school community to celebrate the joy and camaraderie that define this particular time of year. As we reflect on the day's festivities, let us carry the spirit of Easter with us – a spirit of fun, friendship, and boundless enthusiasm.

Happy Easter from all of us at Cebu Children of Hope School!