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.
In the book of Esther in the Bible, Haman wanted to bring destruction to the Jewish people. The account was able to outline his motives and plans to harm them.
Her thoughts must have been racing, considering each option of salvation for her people and consequences of each one. I imagine that she looked back at her experiences to find insight and answers that could be useful. Esther saw where she hit dead ends and made mistakes; and yet, she also saw how she was able to overcome her challenges and thrive by using her God-given gifts, skills, and abilities. Esther was able to see situations where she was celebrated and favored by both God and man.
From being a humble commoner, she had risen to become a queen. I can imagine Esther struggling with the knowledge that this evil was attempting to annihilate her tribe from the face of the earth. "Lord, thank You for Your love. Please give me clarity of purpose for this season," she must have prayed. "How do I use what You have placed in my hands?" All of these life events and God, her HOPE, prepared her for such a time as this (Esther 4:14) to advocate for salvation even at the cost of losing her life.
In the same way, this pandemic, the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), threatens our families, relationships, peace of mind, way of living--our very existence. Some of us are called to be at the frontlines. Others of us are asked to cooperate by staying at home. Either way, we can take this time to worship Him and ask for clarity of purpose for this season. I believe that God has given to each of us gifts, skills, and abilities that were created for His glory for us to steward for such a time as this.
This blog post is dedicated to all the frontliners here in the Philippines who work for vulnerable children and families. Thank you for your courage and embracing your purpose today, working for our benefit and welfare. You are a blessing. Thank you for the good work you are doing.
Lord, into your hands we commit the frontliners. Please keep them safe and provide supernatural strength and wisdom for them to carry out their tasks. I also pray for their household that You bless and hold them in Your hands. Amen.
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.
Learning math can be fun! My 2nd graders get excited every time we start a new unit. Why? It is because, aside from the interactive story at the beginning (which they love), there is also an interactive game for them to play.
Here are some of their reactions as I handed them the game mats:
Student 1: Yey game nasad! (yeah, we'll play math games again!)
Student 2: I like subtraction and addition! (giggling)
Student 3: Teacher, how to play this game Two-Digit Treasure?
During the game they had a lot of fun subtracting and adding two-digit numbers. Who knew math could be this fun! They were actively engaged in the game and used their own methods for answering the problems. Some of them used mental math while others found the answer by writing the problem down. The classroom was full of excitement!
One of the foundational beliefs in education is that students learn best when they are actively involved in the learning process. It gives them the opportunity to explore and learn. When you combine exploration with fun, learning happens quickly without the student even noticing.
At CCHS we are able to use some of the best math curriculum around because of generous supporters like you! Thank you for giving our kids the chance to learn, have fun, and grow!