I had breakfast with a CSC donor today. He and his wife have been very generous to CSC over the years. He had previously owned a business in the Twin Cities and he mentioned how glad he was the he didn't have to be trying to run a business during this pandemic. I think we all have things in our past that we are glad we don't have to deal with during this challenging and difficult time. Although I miss being on the Leadership teams in Cebu so much, I don't really miss some of the difficult discussions and hard decisions that need to be made almost on a daily basis. The thing that makes them hard is that they affect lives, and we don't have a grand blueprint for success in navigating this pandemic. None of us has ever seen anything like this so we have no data base of proven methods to bank on .
I am so glad that our new Field Director, Roberto Atienza, is so talented and enthusiastic to embrace the challenges of leading CSC in Cebu during this time. I'm sure he would rather be leading under different circumstances but he has stepped up and taken on the challenges with vigor and tireless effort. His term of leadership began when the pandemic was already upon the Philippines. While still learning some of the basics about the ministry, getting to know our leaders and deciding on a management style he was suddenly leading meetings about quarantines, supply chains, manpower crises, lockdowns, mobility limitations, and the financial, social work, educational, medical, HR and spiritual issues that this crisis presents to CSC. And these have been oom meetings, not face to face sessions where it is easier to share feelings and interpret ideas and reactions. I am thankful that he is not wishing he was someplace else or focusing on the negative parts of ministry in a pandemic. His faith in God is strong, contagious and encouraging to the people whose pictures are on the Zoom screen and who rely on him for direction, support and spiritual leadership.
Am I glad that I am not having to lead CSC at this time? Well, that is a complicated question. We left Cebu in part because of concerns because of our age and health issues, and we don't second guess that. I miss the interactions with our great Leadership Team, watching them rise to the occasion every single day. I miss consultations with Roberto on a wide range of issues and watching the child care workers and other lock-in staff doing an exceptional job. But I don't miss some of the pressure packed meetings that are necessary, of having to come up with fresh ideas when I don't feel like I have any more, and facing the sobering realities every day of a deadly disease lurking just outside our CSC campus that it is our job to keep out. I know that at 66 years of age I don't have the same stamina I used to have.
I am glad that God worked out a transition of leadership in Cebu and that Roberto is clearly His man for the job. Stepping aside and letting him lead was a seamless transition for me because of who he is as a man of God and a leader. I know that Stateside is where we are supposed to be, even if we miss the kids and workers so much it hurts sometimes. In that respect I'm glad to be where I am.
Please keep Roberto and the Leadership Team in your prayers during these tough days. I can say from experience that they feel your prayers, your love and encouragement and need it very much. Thanks!
A few months ago we were planning our trip back to Minnesota to start our retirement. Because of the pandemic our flights were canceled and we were put on "enhanced community quarantine." Basically , we have had to stay inour home for the past 100 days, unable to go to the shelter or the office or the Children of Hope School to see the kids and workers. Needless to say it has been a challenging time for everyone at CSC. During our extended quarantine we have been checking to see if there are any flights out of the Philippines, preferably Cebu. We were happy to be here, helping out Roberto and the Leadership team in helping assure that our children are receiving the best care possible during the lockdown in Banawa. We have attended regular Zoom meetings, discussing manpower and financial issues, keeping our US office appraised of the situation here and dealing with logistical issues of moving people and goods around during times of strict measures that limit mobility.
Just the other day we heard of a flight to the U.S. via Korean Airlines and Delta. In order to make this flight we needed to secure a Travel Pass to get to the airport, health certificates andbarangay and immigration clearances. Jill from our US office helped a lot as did our Administrative Assistant, Vanjing and Jerry Salgo, the person who has coordinated all the security and transportation matters for CSC thr0ughout this crisis.
So we are leaving Cebu on July 4! Its Wait and Hurry Up. We are trying to organize our possessions, the accumulation of 41 years of living in Cebu, in just a few days. Some things were are selling, some we are shipping to MN and most we are giving away. But arranging all of our emotions has been more challenging. The thoughts of walking away from the ministry that has been our life for 41 years had been on the back burner for a long time as we weren't sure how the pandemic was going to play out. We had been emotionally prepared to be here in Cebu until Christmas if necessary.
So now we are scurrying to get ready to leave. So many CSC and other people are helping us. One of the nicest gifts to us was an amazing farewell party at the Shelter this morning. Although we weren't able to actually hug or be near the children or workers, we did go inside the CSC compound. We sat on the area outside the conference room of the Gleddie Building and heard the kids sing, give tributes and give us a ton of love and appreciation. It was the first time we had seen them in more than 100 days. Lots of tears were shed. It wasn't the party we had imagined months ago when we were preparing for retirement, but it was a wonderful party and we are so thankful to the Leadership Group for planning it. We were humbled. It made leaving Cebu, although still difficult, seem somehow more manageable because we were able to see and hear the kids we love so much.
When you care for 80 residents, from infants to young adults, you want to make sure you are prepared as a global pandemic creeps closer and closer to your front door. Though CSC (and most of the world) is maneuvering through uncharted waters, I am proud of the way Roberto, Paul, and the CSC leadership team have been proactive and creative in their response.
One of the top priorities before COVID-19 became prevalent in Cebu was to make sure we would have the manpower and supplies needed to continue to provide fantastic care for our kids. As we were working to stock up on medicine, food, diapers, and other daily necessities, God was working in the hearts of many CSC employees who volunteered to be "locked in" at the Shelter. These people (pictured below) were an answer to prayer as the best way we could keep our kids safe from the virus was to do a total lockdown.
We are now in week 3 of lockdown at CSC and God is continuing to show His goodness. I am so thankful for our team of dedicated CSC employees and the ways they are using this time at the Shelter to create fun memories for our kids and enable them to continue progressing academically. Teacher Cris, our CCHS principal, signed up to be locked in at the Shelter and is helping lead the kids in academic activities every morning. Everyone from house parents to aunties to social workers to nurses have stepped up to do what is needed for the ministry at this time. God's presence is so visible at CSC!
As a leadership team God has been helping us be creative with how we can support our "locked in" coworkers. Prayer has been our main vehicle. Every night at 9:30pm we pray for the kids at CSC as well as our coworkers who are living and working at the Shelter. We also divided up all the locked in employees among the leadership team so each of us have 3 or 4 specific people we are more intentionally praying for every day. During Holy Week we set up Facebook Live events so both the employees locked in and those locked out could worship together and encourage one another. The Saturday before Holy Week the locked in employees had requested a special worship time that would just be for the adults, a time when they could focus their worship without having to divide their attention with monitoring kids and helping them worship. Roberto and Paul arranged a time after the kids went to bed to gather all the adults. The employees were so thankful for that time of refreshing! As a leadership team we are meeting together online 2-4 times a week to be proactive and planned as the COVID situation constantly changes in Cebu. Pictured below is one of the many checkpoints around the city.
The immediate outlook in Cebu is not promising. A couple of days ago they set up road barricades around our part of town (pictured below) as we have growing numbers of COVID cases. Now, today, there are rumors that the road that the Shelter is on will have its own barricade, prohibiting anyone from coming in or going out. Many questions like how we'll get food deliveries to the Shelter are on our minds. But, just as God has been faithful and present continually over the past 40 years, He will show Himself able and good in the midst of increasing restrictions.
Thank you for your continued prayers! We at CSC know that there are many, many places in the world that need your prayers and financial support. We are extremely grateful for your continued commitment to our amazing kids!
Since CSC is on lockdown the leadership team has been meeting regularly, sometimes more than once a day. The children, some of our child care workers, two nurses, counselors, social workers, maintenance men, guards and other staff are locked in for a two week period. Recently Field Director Roberto Atienza established a Facebook group page for the Leadership team to stay updated on how things are going at the shelter, things that are needed, government directives, prayer concerns and other communication needs. Pictures that are sent out from the shelter are shared on this forum. It is a place to announce meetings, discuss important decisions and even joke a little. It is an on-line meeting room for expressing support and solidarity during this difficult time at CSC.
Examples of posts:
There is a problem with the solar panels. Jerry has called the company and made a video of the meter to give their engineer. Since nobody from the outside can go inside, Jerry (who is also locked out) has to relay instructions to our maintenance men.
The city government has some new directives limiting movement of people and establishing quarantines and travel bans. What does this mean for our workers and staff?
Kids are enjoying their meals and are being kept busy with school work, recreation and fun activies organized by Jinkee, Eunice and Annie.
There will be an on-line worship service Sunday night for the CSC community featuring music by the "locked-in" aunties and kids, and a message by Roberto
Some of the kids are sick. We need to pray and encourage our nurses and review our scheduling.
Please pray for our leaders, the "locked-in" gang in Banawa, and, most especially, for the kids. Join our leaders in praying for protection for them, that they would be safe and secure and know that they are loved and treasured.
In the past month 54 kids have been treated for respiratory illness. Yesterday was the first day in several weeks that we didn't need to go to the doctor, and four kids were ecstatic to finally go home after being in the infirmary here at the Shelter. The infirmary has six spacious rooms where children are monitored by our medical staff and cared for by our child care workers 24 hours a day when they are ill. There are 12 kids still isolated so we hope to send them back to the houses in a couple of days.
Thankfully, Shenly and Wilmar were discharged from the hospital and are recuperating at home, but Wilmar misses having air conditioning and his own TV!
The hospitals are full and masses are sick with the same type of illness, so we are praising God for miraculous healing, as we have never had so many sick kids at one time.
On October 3 Sam's mother gave birth in a taxi so was rushed to Cebu City Hospital, which is temporarily housed at the City Fire Department. He was exposed to many dangers in the first hours of his life. Since the mother was unable to care for her baby we took him and admitted him to the hospital we use called Cebu Doctors Hospital, where he is fighting a severe infection. Thankfully, he is drinking well, and has gained a bit of weight.
Without hesitation we bought 77 pillows yesterday for $300, knowing that our supporters would be thrilled to know that each of the kids has a brand new clean pillow. The kids are excited to see the huge mound of pillows piled up in the Duterte house just waiting to be passed out after school today.
Thank you so much for your concern and prayers for everyone at CSC.