Saturday, September 11, 2010


Hi family and friends!

As my whirlwind trip is already winding down (only 7 more weeks until I return to Canada), I decided I wanted to do something really special and really fun for the children before I left. Something truly unforgettable. Something that every kid dreams of experiencing, but many kids don't get the chance. My upcoming birthday gave me the perfect excuse to pull it off. Traditionally, when it's your birthday in the Philippines, you are the one who treats your family and friends. So I invited 50 kids to my party (kids from our street children programs and students from our daycare/school), along with 20 parents and helpers. There was really only one location epic enough for our epic party...

This is a BIG clue as to where we held the party...

That's right, we brought the kids to a McDonald's party!!

I decided McSpaghetti is a somewhat healthier option than burgers..?
But the children were happy enough just to enjoy the festivities!!

Kids who spend the majority of their time in the streets enjoy a rare
opportunity to dress up in their finest and celebrate with their friends.

The kids gather around to sing me "Happy Birthday".

Tata (a worker in our children's program) and
Jet Jet (one of my students) having heaps of fun.

Adrian chows down like nobody's business.

The children enjoyed games, prizes, dancing, and of course so much food in their happy meals. The parent-helpers and workers from our team were also exceptionally grateful to enjoy this time of fellowship and fun together. I couldn't have imagined a better way to celebrate my birthday then to share it like this. In all honesty though, I did enjoy a bit of special treatment - I was overwhelmed with the thoughtful gifts that many of the children gave me (most of them homemade!). These included a necktie from Ally (my youngest student), a framed photo of me with some of the kids, and lots of priceless letters and cards. I'll never forget the children who put so much effort into making a big card that said many kind words but then followed with, "We're sorry Kuya (brother) John. We love you, but we don't have a gift to give you!" I told them, "Meron! May regalo kayo sa akin - yung pag-ibig mo! Ang pinakapaborito ko." ( English, "You do though! Your thoughtfulness and love is the best gift I received.")

Hanging out with Cassandra.

The kids enjoy many games...

...with many prizes!

It's just not a McDonald's party without Grimace and Birdie
arriving fashionably late.

Yep, we're all kids at heart.

In other news, two siblings from our street children's program (Florence and Francis) contracted Dengue fever earlier this month. Dengue is a disease that occurs only in the tropics and is typically transmitted by mosquitoes. Dengue can be life-theatening, but it is usually easy to treat when properly attended to. I was able to visit Florence and Francis in the hospital to cheer them up and do what I could to help the family out. Florence was confined in the hospital for a whole week. However, we're so thankful that they are both healthy now and they even attended the birthday party!

Also, I have to mention that Christmas season is already upon us here in the Philippines! Christmas decorations go up and Christmas music begins playing in the malls on the first day of September. I look forward to seeing family and friends again this Christmas!

Take care!


  1. Great post John - a very emotional description of your part. Happy Birthday. See you soon.

  2. John, you're my hero!! Looks like it was an amazing time for you and all the kids!!
    Wish I could have been there for that too!

  3. Wow.. I can't believe it's already been a year since I received that newsletter from you, outlining the blessed task you were about to undertake in the Philippines. 7 more weeks until you're back!

    The kids will miss you, and I can only imagine how much you're going to miss the kids.. so much love! Have you considered staying on?