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!
On Friday, September 29, CSC held a luncheon for people who have referred children to us. It was a good time of giving our thanks to them and presenting an update on the ministry. We called the event Thanks for the Trust, because we know that those who refer children to us do so because they trust CSC to provide excellent care for them. Those attending were government social workers, representatives from non-government child caring agencies, community leaders, pastors and CSC workers who have referred children from their communities. As part of our presentation I made the following promises to those who would consider CSC for the referral of a child or children.
1. We will give each referral our careful attention.
2. We will provide quality care for the children we admit.
3. We will strive to keep siblings together. 60% of our children are siblings.
4. When appropriate, we will work for the adoption of our children.
5. We will advocate strongly for the best interests of our children.
6. We will provide a high quality education for our children.
7. We will do our best to keep our children safe.
8. We will hire the best staff available and will invest in their development.
9. We will strive to honor God in all we do at CSC.
10. We will not admit children for whom we cannot provide excellent care. 11. We value your partnership through referrals.
As I was thinking about the Thanks for the Trust event, I thought about how trust is involved in all aspects of our work. People trust us enough to refer children. We trust our workers to do a good job of caring for them. The children come to trust us and, eventually, to share their life experiences and feelings with our counselors and house parents. And our supporters trust CSC enough to give of their financial resources to the ministry. That trust is crucial and we strive to keep it with honest and timely reporting on the work we do and the needs we face and meet. Thanks for the trust, everybody. We are humbled and encouraged by it.
Here is a poem I wrote as I reflect on my experience teaching at CCHS.
In God's own image we're created
By His hands perfectly molded
Our life which He has favored and blessed
In this ministry where He led.
Wide smile painted on the face from a far
Shimmering glowing eyes you love to stare
Giggling and laughter you will hear
Hugs and love you can't resist to share.
Children are always a blessing from above
Showing understanding is one form of love
Teaching them with patience and kindness
Making them learn with happiness.
I never thought my life would be as lovely as this
Memories worth treasured, I couldn't miss
Surrounded by people who has one goal and desire
Incomparable joy is the feeling I felt inside.
Our kids at the Children of Hope School love to read. During the first few weeks they spent some of their time reading the bulletin boards prepared by the teachers. This quotation is posted in one of the classrooms. One student happened to read this quote and responded:
Student: Teacher, why is education the most powerful weapon for changing the world?
Teacher: Of course, education is the most powerful weapon for changing the world because through education we can alleviate poverty, easily find jobs, and create a better society.
As I was trying to think about what other things I could say to help explain this concept the student, still looking intently at the quote, then said:
Student: Teacher, why don't we put Jesus as the most powerful weapon for changing the world?
I couldn't contain my joy as I heard the student utter those words! My heart was delighted as I affirmed what the student said. This student was looking at the much bigger and much brighter picture of this world. Sometimes, as we teachers try to inspire the kids with our lives, we often end up learning and getting inspired by them. As I teach at CHS this year I am excited for more inspiring conversations with the kids.