“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Handling the medical department during a pandemic is a huge responsibility. It was terrifying to hear Covid-19 reaching Cebu and the plan for eventual lockdown. Even with plans in our hands, we are still caught with so many surprises. The promise in Deuteronomy 31:6 has been our constant comfort, strength, and encouragement in the medical department as we face the many challenges during this pandemic. Looking back, when we were confronted about the virus people had little knowledge of, we were anxious and confused. We asked ourselves if we will be able to take care of all the children and employees entrusted to our care. The lockdown period, which we anticipated to last for a month, has been ongoing for almost a year now. We prayed that every flu-like symptom, especially in the first month, is just a simple flu, and the children and workers will just respond to medication. We made sure employees who are locked in had their maintenance meds and would be able to cope with the 12-hour shift each day. We constantly reminded our lock-out personnel to practice standard health protocol to protect themselves and their families. When we are terrified, God has reminded us to be strong and courageous. He constantly brought us back to His Word and reminded us that we are under His wings. He assured us that...
Under His wings, we are PROTECTED.
Even when we had emergency runs for lacerations for our two little kids and an admission, God restored their health and protected them from possible infection because of outside exposure. We have less sick kids during the year compared to our recorded illnesses in the past years. Our sick children also responded well to medications given by the doctors.
Under His Wings, we are PROVIDED.
We couldn’t thank God enough for using people and agencies to give and provide every need we have in the department. We were able to secure free tests for all our employees who came to serve during the lockdown. We had the means to quarantine our workers for 14 days prior to working through the CCHS facility. We were able to procure PPEs even during the scarcity of supply in the city. We were provided with doctors who were willing to answer our queries even at 2:00 AM, and we were able to avail of the home services for laboratory tests and eye check ups. We are grateful that we have workers who are committed to serve and be with the kids for 3 months and even longer. Lastly, God has given us wisdom to respond to every child’s medical or health needs and to come up with the health and safety protocol for the shelter.
Under His Wings, we are PROMISED.
Despite the uncertainties the pandemic brought, we are continually assured that His grace is more than sufficient to meet the needs of our children and workers. His promise to never leave us nor forsake us holds true in every situation we have faced. We thank God because in all of these, we are assured of His presence.
Indeed, under His wings, He covered us.
Do you ever have those times at your job when you look around and you are simply amazed at all the wonderful things happening? When you see coworkers overcoming huge obstacles to continue to do their jobs with excellence? That is how I feel right now.
Amazed and thankful.
The teachers I have been fortunate enough to work with for the past three years are coming up on one year of being locked in at the shelter, one year of educating the CSC kids in the living rooms and offices scattered around the shelter. This is not easy but the teachers have not used this challenging time to complain or only give 50%. The opposite is true. These coworkers, my friends, have met this challenge with energy and dedication. They have helped me problem solve how to daily transform living rooms into classrooms and then back to living rooms, making sure that all the resources needed to help kids learn are present and mobile. They have supported each other when COVID or death has struck their family and they haven't been able to be present because of government restrictions.
They have thought of new ways to bring school lessons to life, enabling their students to understand concepts deeper through creative, hands on activities. As an example, last week our two third grade teachers worked together with their students to create the CCHS Mini Snack Bar. Their unit in math was on money and decimals. What better way to grasp these concepts than to run a little store for the day and interact with money in a real way?
Not only was this activity helpful for the third graders, but the other classes benefited by learning about money, making choices, practicing how to speak with confidence as they made their order, and understanding what you can buy with 5 or 10 pesos.
As schools all over the world are trying to decide how best to educate kids during this pandemic, be rest assured that the kids at CSC are continuing to make great gains and thriving largely in part to this amazing team of teachers. CSC is filled with these kinds of dedicated and knowledgeable people in every department!
It has been 10 months since lockdown was implemented at CSC. A lot of growing pains have happened since then with the multi-disciplinary team, individually and collectively. For team members who were locked-in, that is about 300 days of living out of a suitcase, living with about 130 children and adults, requesting personal toiletries once a month with others buying it for you, yearning for your “own space”, missing face to face conversations with family and friends outside of work, and did I mention having your patience tested and tried?
On the other side of the coin, we have members on the multi-disciplinary team who work from home. One of the challenges included having to learn how to provide a remote service. Turning over or overcoming barriers in communication and technology was also highlighted. I can imagine the heartbreak of the frontliner to face the transition of not being able to see the children and directly work with them.
As leaders, we also battle to protect our frontlines in this pandemic, and I believe it starts with Connection. Keeping the morale and camaraderie high, training relevant, supporting and redirecting team members to keep their eyes on the goal has been a learning experience for me. In pursuit of deepening our connection with each other as colleagues, we are reminded that our identity and value is in Christ and that although challenges seem to limit us, we train our eyes to see beyond and steward the opportunities, skills, and talents that we have in our hands.
Despite these challenges, God is good and kind. He has given us creative ideas to implement, grace to talk about difficult matters, hope to put one foot in front of the other, and assurance in the sovereignty of our King when in doubt.
I hope that these pictures will bring a smile on your face and give you a closer glimpse on our journey as a team through this pandemic. Thank you to our family, friends, and stakeholders who continually remember us in prayer and partnership. Your connection matters to us, too.
Christmas Tree Contest: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.
House fathers hanging out.
Normal meetings these days.
We all want some sort of "normal" these days, don't we? In our homes at CSC, we try to make the days of our children as normal as possible—lockdown style. Time for chores, time for naps, time for school and time for play. We celebrate holidays and have a good time during activities and events.
More importantly, we celebrate birthdays. We are blessed that we are able to celebrate each child on his or her birthday. Most of the children that comes to CSC never had a birthday party before. Some children are shy celebrants, others wait for their gifts with round eyes, while most cannot contain their joy and radiates a palpable smile.
Although we celebrate 70 plus birthdays each year, we want these celebrations to be focused on the child. Each child gets to choose the menu for his or her party, the flavor of his or her birthday cake and gets to invite 2 friends. Each child can choose an adult he/she wants to pray for him or her. Each child gets to be celebrated, even for a day.
And yes, a lot of preparation entails when throwing a birthday party! Food preparation, table setting, decoration, and the birthday gifts. But it never gets old. Why? Because each child is different. Each child brings a different flavor in each birthday celebrations.
We praise the Lord for all the people who loves CSC. We praise Him because He makes everything certain during an uncertain time. We praise the Lord that we are able to give our children a "normal" birthday party, lockdown style.
Psalm 127:3 Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.
It is funny (and kind of sad) to think back to late March of 2020. We were making plans to lockdown CSC for a couple of weeks, maybe even a month, to keep out this new virus called COVID-19. At Cebu Children of Hope School (CCHS) we were just starting our 4th quarter so a couple of the teachers volunteered to be locked in for those few weeks to help the kids continue with their school year at the shelter. Just a small detour, right?
We are now coming up to our 300th day in lockdown. I guess it is lasting a little longer than I first expected.
This past Monday we started our 3rd quarter at CCHS. All the teachers (pictured below) have been living and working at the shelter for several months, enabling us to have as normal of a school year as we can. I continue to be thankful for all the CCHS teachers as they put the needs of the CSC kids first.
Years from now when our kids will think back to this time, they will not talk of fear or anxiety but of all the people who moved into the shelter, of having school in their living room, and of God's goodness through keeping them safe.
Thank you for your prayers and support of CSC during this challenging time! Enjoy these pictures from our first day of 3rd quarter!