Monday, March 12, 2012

Born to be Wild

Daycare Field Trip to the Zoo

Dear friends & family,

Many of us consider the animals in a zoo "wild". However, I'd like to introduce to you a different class of wild - a class that's even more fierce, fearless, and wonderful - the "Class of 2011-2012" from our Educational Daycare!

Full of energy and excitement, our daycare students
climb onto a rented "jeepney" headed to Avalon Zoo.
(From left-to-right: Ally, Rhian, Nichole, Levi)
That's right - these kids aren't tame. But I love 'em. Recently we had the opportunity to take our daycare students outside the congested city on a field trip to the beautiful Avalon Zoo. This was the perfect place to teach them all about the diverse wildlife found in the Philippines and around the world. Even for such imaginative young minds, God's creation proved more fantastic and complex than they'd ever imagined. Lions, tigers, and bears are only the beginning of a vast collection of species that we discovered at the zoo. Many of the students' mothers who accompanied us were also blessed by this time of bonding and growth with their children.

Actually, I miss spending time with the kids these days! I realize how ironic that might seem, since my purpose for being in the Philippines is to serve the children and families in urban poverty. However, for now I'm still in Tagalog language school on weekdays in Quezon City - which is fairly far away from our programs for street kids. I'm just reminding myself daily that the more Tagalog I know, the better I'll be able to serve the urban poor in the long-run.

My daily life in Quezon City is not without it's own unique adventures though. Next door to my apartment building is a building under construction, and I'm often practising my Tagalog with the workers there. Most construction workers here don't have it easy. Every day they work from dawn to dusk in the immense heat, and every night they sleep in the rubble of the work-site. They may not see their wives or families for months. Sometimes when I'm walking home from the market, I'll share some snacks and conversation with them. One day they began asking if I had any shirts or shorts that I could give them. In fact, they'd even point at the very clothes I was wearing and ask if I could spare them - "kahit luma" ("even if they're old/used"). In truth, I have plenty of clothes that I rarely wear, most of which are too big to give to the street kids or youth. So one day I met with the men on their break and brought a stack of my clothes to distribute to them. They were each so happy to pick out a t-shirt or a pair of shorts from my collection that many of them said "Pasko na!" ("it's Christmas!"). Now, whenever I walk by the construction site, it makes my day to see them all wearing my clothes!

In other news, one of the workers and leaders of IT Tender (one the teams I work with) named Gela Basiwa has been teaching many of the workers in our little community church how to do case studies of urban poor children. For each of our children's programs (including the daycare), my teammates and churchmates are writing extensive case studies that detail the background of each child and their family. Ate ("Sister") Gela has been studying social work in college part-time for the last couple years, so it's been a blessing for both her and the team to apply her knowledge in our programs.

To write the case studies, we go into the community and meet
the children where they live - in their homes and in the streets.
An outside view of the homes of some of the kids in our children's programs.
Tata (one of the young workers in our church) gathers information
from the kids during her first experience in case-study writing.
Tin Tin (top-right) meets with Ate ("Sister") Marisa (left) and her daughter
Nina. Our church is sponsoring Nina to attend elementary school.
Two of Ate Marisa's other children are also  students in our daycare.

Finally, I'm thankful to announce that my 2-year missionary Visa application was approved! I'm just waiting for the Immigration Office to follow-up on setting an appointment to pick it up, give my fingerprints, and finalize the process.

Thanks for reading! Take care and continue being a blessing to others.



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. (had to delete my previous one - didn't proof read first ;v)
    Do hang in with the language schooling John. You do good work regardless! Too funny re the construction workers - but also so sad! -Karl