"Writing is a process in which we discover what lives in us. The writing itself reveals to us what is alive in us. The deepest satisfaction of writing is precisely that it opens up new spaces within us of which we were not aware before we started to write. To write is to embark on a journey whose final destination we do not know. Thus, writing requires a real act of trust. We have to say to ourselves: "I do not yet know what I carry in my heart, but I trust that it will emerge as I write." Writing is like giving away the few loaves and fishes one has, trusting that they will multiply in the giving. Once we dare to "give away" on paper the few thoughts that come to us, we start discovering how much is hidden underneath these thoughts and gradually come in touch with our own riches."
"Oh that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll..."
JOB 19:23 (NIV)
I don't write for the CSC blog all that often, but I thought it was interesting that the above devotion came to my email inbox just a little over a week ago. It makes me think that what I write down is a deeper expression of not only what is in my mind, but what is in my heart. I'm grateful for those who choose to read our updates and trust that you will find a nugget somewhere in all this to apply to your own lives.
Another school year has begun at CSC at our Cebu Children of Hope School. I received some pictures over the last couple of weeks that seem like priceless classics to commemorate the beginning of our school year. Much like last year, our school is adapting to new spaces where our kids learn in order to keep them safe and sheltered from the effects of the pandemic. Our actual school building is still being used as a quarantine facility for teachers and other employees who are rotating in an out of the shelter.
["My Hopes and Dreams": Don't you just want to know what he's writing for his hopes and dreams?]
[If you are able, Zoom in on the computer screen. Can't you just imagine what these kids are saying they're looking forward to at the beginning of the school year?]
Jesus' words from Matthew chapter 7 are at the heart of why we do what we do. Jesus says, "'Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.'" We believe that God has far greater gifts to give to us and our CSC kids, and we will do our best to continue to give all that we have for their care, including their education.
The pandemic continues to rage on in Cebu with daily cases at all-time highs, even compared to last year. We had hoped to pull back on our restrictions, but that won't be able to occur until more of our employees have been vaccinated. The vaccines are coming to Cebu, but they are slow in coming with only a few doses available to our employees each week. Please continue to pray with us for good health and safety.
Grace and Peace,
P.S. It is my honor to be able to write periodically for our CSC blog. It is my hope that these words and the words from all those who share from time to time will draw you in to the amazing work we get to do at CSC and that your relationship with the Lord will be strengthened. Learn more about CSC at https://cebushelter.org.
Virgilio was in our first group of employees who volunteered to be inside our lockdown. He sacrificed to be away from his wife and children to lock in at the shelter for six months! When he finshed his "tour of duty" inside our lockdown facility, he reunited with his family.
Virgilio has so many talents, including a specialty in plumbing. He has helped fix many problems at the shelter. At present, CSC is still in a lockdown situation due to Covid-19, but it doesn't hinder the facilities department to render it's services to the kids and other residents inside.
This past weekend we hosted a retirement picnic for our founders, Paul and Marlys Healy. They were obedient to God's call on their hearts back in 1978 to care for the people of the Philippines. They moved to Cebu and immediately started caring for vulnerable children and families. They helped plant churches, worked with local missionaries and took in more children as the need grew. They have left quite a legacy. The organization of CSC continues on, providing for children in need, with a great leadership team, wonderful staff and amazing donors.
It's impossible to adequately thank Paul and Marlys for their 43 years of service. We offered our current CSC staff and residents the option of writing a note to Paul and Marlys. As I was thinking about how we could try to say a word of thanks, I came across this note that summed it up well:
"Congratulations on making it to retirement. None of us have completely witnessed every ounce of effort and care you poured into CSC, but God certainly has. May the Lord continue to bless the toil of your hands, even as the seeds you have sown in our hearts continue to grow."
"God has a reason for allowing things to happen. We may never understand His wisdom, but we simply have to trust His will." - Psalm 37:5
The year 2020 has been a challenging year and it carries over this year in 2021 for people all over the world. One area that has been deeply impacted is education. Countries all over the world have been using different approaches so their children can continue to learn. Here in the Philippines, modular distance learning and online classes are used to reach out to children and continue their schooling. One great thing at CSC is our ability to have our classes at the shelter. Our students have greatly benefited and have made substantial improvement in their academic and non-academic skills. We believe continuous learning, even in a modified setting, is an effective way for children to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to satisfy the requirement of their grade levels.
One special student has greatly benefited from a modified class. She started a grade lower when she first came to CSC but because of her determination to learn and handle the lessons presented, we decided to move her up and join a suitable level based on her age and performance. Her first day in August 2020 was full of excitement in learning new lessons and joining a new set of classmates. At first she struggled with the new material especially in reading and spelling. We provided her extra time to work on the skills that needed more attention and refinement. We are thankful that she never losses stamina to keep going in spite of the challenges that come her way. She persevered and is confidently working along with her classmates. She made excellent progress towards the end of the third quarter.
In math, she enjoys solving word problems using the strategies she has learned. She loves math games, especially with math tools available like pattern blocks, pop cubes, and unit blocks. She is also excited to learn simple multiplication and division facts. Her favorite parts of the day; however, are art class and performing experiments during science class. It's wonderful to see how she has progressed this year!
We are so appreciative to all of the supporters, for your faithfulness to CSC in many ways. You are making a difference in the life each child. You have allowed them unlock their potential and show their God-given abilities beyond what we could imagine during this trying time.
(Note: In order to protect the privacy of the children in our care and to comply with Filipino governmental guidelines, our policy when sharing online is to list either a child's name or their photo but not both.)
Today was our last day as employees of CSC. We have known it was coming and prepared for it as best we could. But it hit us kind of hard today, I have to admit. We have new e-mail addresses. We will be switching over to pension and Social Security income from salaries, and medicare supplement insurance from our CSC group plan. We won't be attending Leadership meetings or be involved in strategic planning except as advisors. We can't hug the kids like we long to do. We just watched the CSC virtual banquet and it was very different to see the things that they are doing, not what we are doing.
CSC is our life's work. We gave it all we had and I am pleased to be able to say with certainty that God blessed our efforts and those of so many other people. When the drone shots of CSC appeared on the screen the other night at the virtual banquet, it almost took our breath away as we watched with friends. What a place He has built in Cebu! And what a great team He has assembled to be stewards of not only the buildings, but the ministry that goes on there every day. Every day, in our case, for 15,336 days. That means that every morning for 15,336 days we got out of bed to face a day with purpose and pleasure, doing what we loved to do for the precious kids of CSC. Thanks to all who have joined us over the years to provide a village of love and support around them. We will continue to serve the ministry going forward, to the best of our ability. Thanks for your prayers as we embark on a new journey.