A few weeks ago I had a heart attack. They put in five stents because of significant blockage. I spent a few days in the hospital and went home to embark on a new lifestyle. I exercise every day and am very careful about my diet. Because I am diabetic, the need for controlled intake is doubly important. I am super blessed to have understanding staff at CSC, a loving wife who takes good care of me, and health insurance that will pay for much of the medical bills associated with my surgery, hospitalization, therapy and medications.
In addition to exercise and diet, I have been advised to try and identify areas of stress in my life and work to lessen them. The past year has been very stressful at CSC with lots of personnel and program changes and some difficult situations to handle. There is no way to eliminate stress in my job, with the responsibilities of overseeing a ministry that employs 135 people and provides care for 80 children. But I can say that, in the midst of changes and challenges, God has provided some significant "de-stressers" for me through the people on our Leadership Team. They help manage the challenges and absorb a lot of the stress that would otherwise come my way. For example:
Eldie, who directs our new Human Resources department, takes on issues relating to managing our employees. He handles problems and policies. When we recently had to terminate an employee, he handled it. We discussed it and came to the decision together, but he was the one to implement it. Ging, our Financial Director, manages our funds. This is budget preparation season and she has handled much of the work of gathering the information and working with the staff on the preparation of the various departmental budgets. Klaris, our Social Work Director just got back from a quick trip to Manila for pre-matching one of our children with the Inter-Country Adoption Board. Six months ago I would have had to make that trip and deal with the challenging work of choosing a family with all the complicated procedures and policies of the government for matching. She also does all the editing of child study reports that go to the government for all our kids, again, something I would have been doing a year ago. Jinkee manages the Child Development department, seeing that our kids get the care they need from our house parents, child care workers and therapists. Marlys heads up the medical team of four nurses, making sure the children get the medical care they require. Ben and Cris are at the reins of Children of Hope School, managing the teachers and curriculum so ably and professionally. Although I am responsible for the care our children receive, our relationship to the government, and our financial and human resource management, I don't need to worry about the details of the work being done by these fine people and their teams. They handle problems and challenges, spreading around the potential stress that I need to minimize.
Our generous supporters are also de-stressers. This is crunch time at CSC. We need to raise a lot of money in November and December to meet our income needs for the year. We watch the daily mail counts carefully and prayerfully. Admittedly, we worry a little at this time of year! But much of that is alleviated by the knowledge that our supporters always come through in big ways. Our hope for year-end 2017 is based on the awesome provision of our God through our supporters every years since 1979. That's 38 years of faithfulness! God's admonition for us in Philippians 4:6-7 not to "worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done." Not only is it important to show our faith and appreciation to God for what He has done, we will avoid stress as we "experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. " Truly His peace will "guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus."
Thanks for your important role at CSC for the children, first of all, but for those of us who lead this ministry as well.
Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature – Gerard De Nerval
A flower is one of the cutest things one person can give to another. It has long been a symbol of love and care. The children at CCHS love to give flowers to their teachers and it is one of the most humbling experiences to be reminded that the kids here really love us. These kids are beautiful and surprise us at times when we don't expect. Almost every morning they come to school with flowers in their hands and give them to their teacher with bright smiles on their faces. There have been instances when the child will bring the entire plant including the roots.
Maybe as they picked the flowers they were thinking about those teachers whom they care about. This shows how the kids love their teachers and that they are grateful to them. This lovely act of our kids could truly melt the hearts of the teachers and turn our not-so-good day into an inspiring one.
It is truly a wonderful gift that we definitely love and appreciate. #ForeverGrateful
Bible trivia at CCHS has helped a lot in cultivating more love for God's Word in the hearts of the students. It was something we started in school so everyone can know more of our great God. Every week each level is given one question to answer and one verse to memorize. And every Monday is Bible Trivia Day. Names of students who answered and those who will say the verse are picked. The latter one is quite challenging especially for the bigger students since they are given longer verses to memorize but the teachers are doing a great job of encouraging them to master their bible verses. Praise the Lord for the hardworking teachers who inspire the students to learn more about God's Word!
Bible trivia made a great impact on one of my boys in class. Recently, I noticed something really cool about him. Before, he chose books with colorful pictures to check out from the library but for the past three weeks he has also checked out a Bible. During free time he used to copy and draw pictures but now he chooses to copy verses from the Bible (below is a picture of some verses he copied). There are times that he would also prefer to read the Bible rather than play games with others during free choice time. At first I found it really unusual. In my mind I was thinking, "Why does this boy choose to spend time in God's Word instead of doing other fun things?" One day I got the chance to ask him about it. He answered me with these four words, "I love the Bible."
What a wonderful answer! What a wonderful boy!
The Philippines is a tropical country. It has only two seasons: the rainy and dry seasons. The rainy season starts in June and lasts until October.
Well, it was not a surprise that the first week of October was kind of rainy. On a recent Thursday the students in level B2 had their third subject in the afternoon. The rain was pouring hard when the class started. Then suddenly lightning flashed which was closely followed by a loud roar of thunder. As it happened, some students just closed their eyes while others covered their ears and still others, to their surprise, suddenly screamed because they were afraid of the thunder.
When the lightning and thunder was still on display, I grabbed the opportunity to encourage the students not to be afraid because God is greater than lightning and thunder. We began to pray. Their fear subsided, they calmed down, and we continued the class as if nothing happened.
Maybe some of you have been "that" parent of "that" child when you went to school for parent-teacher conferences. I know I was "that" parent many times through the years. You walk into your child's classroom and are met by a team of professionals who all give you an awkward smile. You know they didn't take time out of their day to come to the conference and tell you how happy they are to have your child in class. They are there to explain in chorus that they have some serious concerns about how your child is doing.
Recently at the Cebu Children of Hope School we had parent-teacher conferences (actually houseparent-teacher conferences). If you had walked into the room you would have been amazed at how many people were assembled to discuss each child who attends CCHS. Some of the adults present were the classroom teacher, a social worker, the principal, the education director, Paul and Marlys Healy, a therapist (when needed), the houseparents, the behavioral specialist, and the child development director. It was an encouraging time to discuss not only the academic progress of each child but to also celebrate how far each one has come in their self confidence, social skills, and emotional stability.
Normally a conference with this many adults in one room raises up a red flag that a child is struggling in class. The exact opposite was true at CCHS. Each child is given the best care possible at CSC and that means several adults blocking out many hours in their week to come to school and discuss the growth of each child, where they currently are at, and then brainstorm ways we can better serve and help each child to become more of the person God created them to be. CSC is blessed to have so many caring and skilled adults, specializing in different areas, to give outstanding care to these great kids. Thank you for helping make all of this possible!