Staff Blog

SubscribeRSS FeedEmail Subscribe
Categories

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2021!

I hope you had a meaningful Christmas filled with opportunities to pause and reflect on the many blessings in your life. It already seems that Christmas and the weeks of Advent are a distant memory. Don't get me wrong, I was there, present for all of it, and had amazing times with our family of eight that included giving and receiving gifts, eating lots of delicious food, playing games, watching some of our favorite holiday classics and taking part in a very special tradition: attending the candlelit Christmas Eve service at our church, this year live-streamed on YouTube.

It is good for us to take a break and reflect on the past, especially at a time like this, the beginning of a new year. It is good for our health and an essential component for anyone who wants to make the most of their lives. I would argue that many of us do not spend nearly enough time reflecting on the past. The importance of doing so will help us immensely. I think we have all heard the quote that says, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." History repeating itself has long been seen as a negative, though I'm certain we could all find elements of history that are worth repeating.

Let this be an encouragement to you to set aside some time right at the start of this year to give thanks for the many blessings God has brought our way and also take time to reflect on the trials we faced as well and remember that even in those times, God was still faithful.

Mirror

Be careful, though, that your looking back does not become a distraction or pitfall for what lies ahead. We all know that looking in the rearview mirror will take our eyes off the road and distract us from what lied ahead. Rather than looking back and getting stuck in the past, remember that God has a better plan for us. Philippians 3:13-14 says, "...But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." God is calling us forward—He has much for us to do!

God's Goodness to CSC in 2020

I joined the CSC staff this past August. More than half the year was already complete. The global pandemic was making a resurgence. In the Philippines, our children and staff had been on lockdown for five months already. There was hope that by the end of September things would "open up" and people would be able to resume some normalcy in their lives. That didn't happen and the lockdown continued. The most amazing news to share in and through all of this was that not one of our residents or staff contracted the virus. And, as an added blessing, regular illnesses were nearly nonexistent as well, and for that we are thankful to God.

As we passed Thanksgiving and were heading for the Christmas holiday season, we knew so much about this year's celebration would need to change. Plans were being made for how Christmas celebrations would take place in the context of all the new rules and regulations. Of course, here I was in the U.S. as a long-distance observer. Technology has become such as blessing for us this year, and I was able to attend nearly all the Christmas celebrations and staff meetings by Zoom. With the time difference, though, that meant me staying up until 1AM or waking at 3AM and 4AM to participate.

Santa_2020

There's not much that could match my excitement for my first CSC Christmas as an employee of this amazing ministry. Suffice it to say, however, the children at the shelter were quite a bit more excited to see Santa arrive by cart to distribute all the wrapped gifts to each and every child. Beyond the gifts, there was singing, sharing the Christmas story or Jesus' birth and a feast that left my mouth watering.

Santa_2

Here stateside, we also had an amazing Christmas celebration as we were so honored to receive all the gifts from our faithful supporters who care so much to see this ministry for homeless Filipino children continue. We were literally shaking our heads at the generous and heartfelt response of all those who identify with the Mission and Ministry of CSC and cheerfully support.

Looking Forward: Opportunities in 2021

Reflecting on the past year has me thinking about CSC's mission statement. I asked our CSC board members last September which parts of the mission statement they identified with or appreciated most. As you might imagine, there were a variety of answers. Several of the board members have been on the board for a long time, while others are relatively new to the board, one member joining in June or 2020. I understand and resonate with their perspective. It makes sense to me that they would have different answers or perspectives. God has made us all unique, after all, and He draws us to different things based on how He made us.

Mission_Statement-60d9f

What keeps me focused in my role as president of this ministry is the beginning part of our mission statement that says, "We exist to glorify God...." For 42 years this is ultimately what CSC has been about. Everything we do is dependent on that beginning part of our mission statement. Our glorifying God is the lens by which all other things aspects of this statement and the work of the ministry are viewed. And as we continue to glorify Him, He continues to show us just how much He cares for us all—children and staff—and provides for our every need.

One of the things our Field Director, Roberto, and I discuss on our weekly Zoom calls is the progress being made to admit new children to the shelter. CSC is set apart from other shelters or orphanages by our aspect on placement services and adoption. There are other places right there in Cebu City that provide care for homeless children, but their focus is primarily on long-term residential care. As children are placed through adoption, opportunities for new children to be a part of the CSC family present themselves. Our staff in Cebu are working diligently on both placements and new admissions, but the pandemic and government restrictions have made this effort challenging in 2020. It is our hope that 2021 will see more children being welcomed into the loving arms of CSC and that more children will be place for adoption. Please pray with us to that end.

Prayer

Dear Lord, as we begin a new year, let us not become overwhelmed and anxious about the unknown and what the new year will bring our way. Help us to remember that you will never leave us or forsake us and that you want nothing more than to give your children the best gifts possible. Help us to remember—to reflect on the past—in a way that honors you and gives thanks for all you've done for us. Let us consider first and most what you would want us to do in the months ahead, to see where you are already at work, and then join you in what you have already planned for us to do. In the name of Jesus, the Christ, Amen.

P.S.
It is my honor to be able to write periodically for our CSC blog. It is my hope that these words and the words from all those who share from time to time will draw you in to a deeper walk with the Lord and help you see things from different points of view. While we hope to tell you more about Children's Shelter of Cebu, we also want to share a bit about those who do the work. Learn more about CSC at https://cebushelter.org.

Sources:

The Holy Bible. English Standard Version. Retrieved from:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+3%3A13-14&version=ESV

The Human Memory. (2020, November 25). Long-Term Memory. Retrieved from:
https://human-memory.net/long-term-memory/

Yocco, Victor S. (2018, January 5). Dwelling On The Past: The Importance Of Self Reflection (Part 2). Retrieved from:
https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2018/01/importance-self-reflection-part-2/

Life and Living

Apr. 13, 2024By: Roberto Atienza  ›  Author Bio

A couple of weeks have passed since Easter, but the joy of the season still lingers on at CSC. During the Easter season, we celebrate forgiveness, reconciliation, renewal, and rebirth. On Resurrection Sunday, we revel in the new life we have been born into thanks to Christ's victory over sin and death. A new life; one that is defined by life, love, and living, and one that has an opposite trajectory to the life we had been living before. As you can imagine, this holiday holds very special meaning at CSC. At CSC, faith, love, forgiveness, renewal, rebirth ... new life ... are at the core of everything we do.

434217759_437253675424981_2372368707401434284_n_1

To celebrate the season, we use many symbols and, of course, have a ton of fun doing it. After church, a massive Easter Egg Hunt sends the kids running across the big field between the homes, searching inside of plants, pots, and dark corners. It's tons and of fun, and we explain how the eggs are meant to symbolize new life and living. The fact that they're hollow eggs made of plastic is meant to symbolize the empty tomb where Jesus' lay; a tomb which is empty because He is Risen! And the hunt? Well, that's just meant to be fun and goofy, and the smiles and laughter filling the Shelter make the effort of hiding the eggs completely worth it.

media overlay

Aside from the Easter Egg Hunt we also play fun games, like an art and coloring contest to showcase our kids' talents, and an egg toss for a little fun competition. The little ones used hard-boiled eggs for their games to make it a little easier for them, and I admittedly might have eaten a hard boiled egg or two while watching.

It's been two weeks now since Easter Sunday, but the feeling still lingers on. Not only is life marked by joy and happiness at CSC, it is also marked by renewal and rebirth. CSC is a place of a healing and growth, where children are able to heal from past hurts and grow past them, finding a new life that is no longer defined by their history or circumstances, but instead by who God has made them to be. I love Easter, and I love the fact that we can tangibly express the very meaning of Easter in everything we do.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

"Eureka" Moments

group_picture_1

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.

Einstein_Group_1Galilei_Group_1-a7c92

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Preschool_Mat_Quiz_2_1Preschool_Math_Quiz_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

aiplane_making_1aiplane_testing_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

wrapping_the_egg_to_safety_1_1

egg_declared_safe_1-27fd2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 Blog_post_1-fd10a     Blog_post_2-d47c8

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.

Screenshot_2024-02-22_at_10.05.54AM

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!

Screenshot_2024-02-22_at_10.06.07AM

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.

Screenshot_2024-02-29_at_10.00.53AM

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.

Screenshot_2024-02-29_at_10.01.11AM

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!

Screenshot_2024-02-29_at_10.01.25AM

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.

Screenshot_2024-02-29_at_10.02.00AM

Birthday Prayer

Feb. 22, 2024By: Jinkee Reasoner

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

IMG_0944-ae188

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!