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They are all in His hands

Jun. 7, 2015By: Grace Anderson

As a staff member at CSC, I have the privilege of witnessing many amazing events in the lives of our kids. From birthdays, to graduation, to adoption...the staff and workers at CSC are constantly reminded of how God is working in this world. Many of the things we observe are often behind the scenes, and invisible to the eyes of the children. In July, I will have completed my year working on the Child Development team, and will be heading home to Minnesota. When I think about the eminent goodbye to come, it takes all that I have to hold it together. In reflection, here are some things that I have learned while being here:

1. You don't have to own much to be joyful. The kids at the shelter come from some pretty rough backgrounds, and many of them no longer have parents to speak of. Though we provide many things for them here at the shelter, it by no means replaces the need they have for a family. However, despite all the things going against them, the children are joyful. I have never seen anyone so contented with a few sticks, a plastic bag and some string...but of course that means hours and days of fun making and flying kites. And who ever knew paper could be so entertaining? But of course it is when it is formed into a paper airplane! The kids here don't have video games, or ipods, or cell phones to play with - things that many children in the U.S. see as necessities - yet that doesn't stop them from finding a way to have joy in each moment. 


2. The last point kind of leads into this one. Hope is abundant in the lives of the children at CSC. Every night, the kids pray to be given a mom and a dad. Some kids have just started praying this prayer, and some have been praying it for years and years. For the later group, it is especially hard. Some of the children here have seen many friends adopted, and yet they have heard nothing of parents of their own. Though this is discouraging for them, they never let it get them down long. The prayers never stop. The hope is real. 


I came to CSC with many preconceived notions about what I would be doing, and how I would impact the lives of the children around me. However, as time goes on, and as I look back, I realize the opposite has occurred. Yes I have made an impact, but I believe the greatest impact has been the one impressed upon my own heart by the kids. The way these kids live their lives is incredible, and if I can learn even one thing from the example they show, I will become a better person. It is going to be very hard to leave all these kids behind, but I find comfort in knowing that God has a plan for each and every one of them, and they are all in His hands. 

A time for laughter

May. 10, 2015By: Grace Anderson

It has now officially been summer time at CSC for a few weeks now. Today marks the start of the second week of summer activities. I have had the privilige of being directly involved in activities this year, as I volunteered to be the cooking class teacher.  There are 7 children in my class, 6 girls and one boy, all under 12! It is an energetic bunch to say the least! We meet 3 times a week, with a different cooking theme each week. Last week, we learned all about cake. On monday, the children spend time in the library on the school computers, looking up different kinds of cakes and their recipes.  They each were to choose three favorites, and share them with the group. We then examined different aspects of cake making through videos (which of course they love!). The day was concluded by a fresh-made snack; on Monday it was carmel popcorn! On Wednesday we met again, and prepared to go grocery shoppping. The kids each had their own assignment for what to find at the store, which was exciting for them. On Friday, all of our hard work culminated into our baking experience. Last week, our recipe was a layered rainbow cake. It took about three hours of hard work and fun, and the product was quite incredible. Don't you agree? 


Also this summer, I have been able to have small groups of the teenage girls over for overnights at my apartment. The girls are always super excited to find out who is next to sleep over. The evening begins with a shopping trip at a local grocery store. We purchace all the ingredients for dinner and snack that evening. Once we arrive at my apartment, the girls are in charge of making dinner. The last few times, the girls have decided on sloppy joes - an unfamiliar dish for all of them! Once dinner is over we do a variety of activities, ranging from: zumba, painting nails, watching youtube videos, and singing. We close the evening by watching two movies, projected on the wall, and having a snack. The girls are especially excited because they get to stay up late! When they get up in the morning, they are treated to chocolate chip pancakes before packing up and heading back to the shelter.   

The kids at CSC are having a blast this summer, and can't wait to start each new day to see what it will bring. Please continue to pray for the safety and health of our kids as they go about their summer activities.

A Night of Music

Feb. 10, 2015By: Grace Anderson

This past Monday some of our kids got to experience a music event at CSC.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, for the past 4 months I have been teaching private voice and piano lessons to 8 talented CSC kids.  All of their hard work culminated into a special music recital.  For the past month or so, the 8 students had been working hard to make their 2-3 songs performance ready. I had been working equally as hard to prepare the setting for what I believed would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some of them.

For the voice students (there are 6), Disney and Broadway songs have been the focus in our lessons.  Some of the songs performed included:  Part of your world - The Little Mermaid, Consider Yourself - Oliver,  I Could Have Danced All Night - My Fair Lady, Colors of the Wind - Pocahontas, Do Re Mi - The Sound of Music, and Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again - Phantom of the Opera.  As you can see, we had quite the selection! Considering the fact that most of their pieces were very theatrical songs, I decided that I would gather costumes for EACH of their songs. I really wanted the kids to have the chance to get in character, and perform in a more dramatic and theatrical way. In all honesty, the costumes actually helped them become better performers, because it helped them use better facial expressions and actions, so as to match their costumes. 

The piano students (2 of them) performed a mix of classical and contemporary pieces. Some of the selections included: Somewhere Over the Rainbow - The Wizard of Oz, Moonlight Sonata - Beethoven, Carol of the Bells, and A Whole New World - Aladdin. 

There was a lot of action building up to the performance. Besides finding all the costumes and fitting the kids, I had to coordinate helpers, set up the stage, create a picture board, make snacks, prepare a slide show, and coordinate group practices. Normally individual lessons take place after school each day, but the week before the performance all of the students stayed after school every day for group practices. It was a bit chaotic at first, trying to pull all the acts together, but at last I could see the big picture. On the Friday before the performance we had dress rehearsal. This was really fun for me (and the kids) because we could at last see all of our hard work coming together. It was also really exciting to see the songs put together with hair, makeup and costumes! 

The excitement of the kids was clearly building, both for the performers and for the other kids at CSC.  This recital was a bit different than other recitals, because it did not include every child at CSC.  The performers were each given 3 invitations to pass out to friends, so that in the end there would be a total of 25 children, along with house parents, teachers, counselors, staff and other outside guests (making the total around 80). The kids at the shelter could not wait to see what we had in store for them!

The day of the recital finally arrived, and the performers headed up to school around 3 for some last minute notes. At about 4:00 we started doing hair and makeup (without lipstick), because at 5:00 we had 2 3-foot pizzas delivered for dinner. No I am not joking, these pizzas were 3 feet in diameter!! It was crazy! After chowing down, we finally got everyone into their costumes in time to go out to the music room for warm ups before the show. The kids expressed that they were nervous, but very excited. After a short prayer we headed out to start the show.

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Everything about the recital went just as I had planned - maybe even better! The kids really came through in their performances, and truly showcased how hard they had been working in the past 4 months.  It was exciting to see the performances come to life as the kids added their actions and personalities to the songs. I was particularly impressed by one of my student's performance. All throughout practicing and lessons she had quite a hard time learning and memorizing the words to her songs. Even all the way up to the day of the performance I was worried that she would not have the confidence to sing her songs completely.  I had been working with her so hard on building her confidence in herself, so despite my worries, was feeling hopeful for her performance. Boy was I surprised what she would bring to the floor!  Not only did she say the words better than she ever had in practice, she had strength in her voice and sang with confidence and accurate pitch! I felt so proud.

We ended the recital with our surprise number "Let it Go". Once we finished, I felt instantly relieved, and I know the kids did too. It was a complete success, and I have never been more proud of my students!

Planning, planning

Jan. 7, 2015By: Grace Anderson

I have been involved in a complete whirlwind of activity this week! For one thing, this week has been very busy because it is the first normal week we have had since the Christmas holidays. I have been working hard on catching up on my reports, and getting back into toddler program (we took a break for the holidays). So far it has all been going well! My reports are all caught up and toddler program has been a blast! It has been fun because we have a lot of younger toddlers moving up into the program. Our group moved from 9 toddlers to about 13 or 14! Needless to say, it has been a bit of a different dynamic! 

Another reason I have been busy is that I have been working hard on planning for my music recital. On February 2 at 6pm I will be having a music recital for my 8 voice and piano students. I have been planning everything from program order, to creating a program, creating invites, gathering supplies, preparing the kids, informing staff, houseparents and teachers and much much more! I have pretty much completed the program, and this is what my plans are thus far.  The program will exist in two parts.  The first half of the program will start with 6 Broadway vocal selections followed by a piano interlude. We will then have a brief intermission so that the kids have the chance to change costumes, and then the second half of the program will include Disney and movie classics.  

One thing I have been working on gathering this week is costumes. This has been really fun for me, considering my background in music and theater.  Each of the songs is sung by a different character, which means that some children have up to three different costumes! I am proud to say that I have found most of the costumes already, and am now just working on the finishing touches.  As you can tell from my writing, I am super excited for this event, and so are the kids! It has been so much fun to see them grow in their musical and theatrical abilities, and to watch some of them come out of their shells as they gain confidence through music. 

Girl's Night

Nov. 10, 2014By: Grace Anderson

For the past month and a half, the older girls of CSC have had the chance to experience "girls night". Almost every weekend, two girls are invited to my apartment for an evening of fun! 

The event starts long before the weekend even arrives. On Monday after school the group for the week is told that they are invited to girls night. Their excitement is immediate, and only builds over the coming days. On Wednesday the girls are given menu choices. I have  a variety of dinner dessert choices that the girls have the chance to agree upon, and then make. Many of the foods on my list are meals that are uncommon here in the Philippines, so I often have to explain what the meal consists of. So far, each group has chosen something that they have never tried before!

At 4:30 on Friday, the girls meet me at the guard shack. From there, we get a ride down the road to One Pavilion, a shopping center near my apartment. I give the girls a list, and they are then responsible for finding all of our needed ingredients. Once we check out, we make the trek to my apartment on foot. It has been fun to provide this experience for the girls, and have the chance to teach them life skills like cooking and grocery shopping. When we arrive at my apartment, I give the girls instructions on how to prepare the food. Everything we eat that evening will be prepared and cooked by the girls. 

Cooking has been a joyful experience for all involved. Jonnalyn and Andrea enjoyed mixing up and frying meatballs. Jannice and Pretchy made some interesting choices in dessert (corn and cheese ice cream!!). Joanna Mae and Hannah devoured their tacos (they each had about 5!). Adelyn and Ven Ven went into a sugar coma with s'mores dip. Cheryl Mae and Sarah got messy kneading cookie dough. 

The final event of the evening includes watching a movie. With these girls, it was no surprise to find my collection of chick flicks exhausted. Like any teenage girl, the girls of CSC are saps for a good romance movie...especially a Disney one! Watching their reactions to particular scenes has been the most entertaining part for me. Cheryl Mae almost started hyperventilating as the kissing scene in Pride and Prejudice approached, Jonnalyn giggled constantly during A Cinderella Story, and Janice melted at the romance in The Lizzy McGuire Movie.

With the rotation of teens finished, I can say that girls night has been a great success! I look forward to many more nights of fun with these wonderful girls!