Friday, September 14, 2012

School's Out! Yet the Learning Continues...

Dear friends and family,

The last day of August marked the end of an invaluable chapter in my life. On that day, I graduated from Tagalog language school (...pending the actual graduation ceremony - which will happen soon)! Without a doubt, this was only possible with the support and encouragement of my friends here and at home, with the patience of my dedicated language teachers (who I also consider as personal mentors and friends), and with the grace of God. I still have plenty to learn when it comes to Tagalog, and that will only come through practise. However, it was a joy to pass my final oral exam, to give my last presentation, and to share my testimony in Tagalog - all on the last day of school.

This month, I'm excited to be back serving full-time in our programs for street children and youth. Once a week I'm assisting Tin Tin in teaching Educare (our daycare/preschool for street kids in Makati). During the rest of the week I'm helping at the "IT (International Teams) Tender Drop-In Center" in Alabang, just walking distance from my apartment. I'm officially a worker for the IT Tender team under the leadership of Pastor John Basiwa. For the month of September I'm assisting with three of their educational programs, and then starting in October I plan to focus on just one, or even to develop a new program based on the educational needs of the community. All the while, I will continue to be a presence and a support in our Educare program. The three programs I'm assisting with at IT Tender include: Simula Learning Center ("simula" is Tagalog for "beginning") - which is our newest daycare for street kids in that area; next is Hakbang ("footsteps") - a sponsorship program which helps send kids to elementary and secondary school; and finally, Pagbabago ("change") - known here as an "Alternative Learning Systems" program which tutors out-of-school youth and adults to pass their high school equivalency exam.

Saying a prayer in Tagalog at the opening of one of our
community programs at the IT Tender Drop-In Center.
Recently, our team had the pleasure of bringing the children, youth, and parents from all three educational programs (plus the Educare program) on an epic field trip. On Saturday, August 25th, 124 people filled two buses and went on an adventure to three different venues in one day. At Rizal Shrine in Calamba, Laguna, the participants roamed around the area where the young national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal was raised. They learned about the history and heritage of the Philippines' most celebrated national figure. Next stop was the "Lucky Me" Plant in Santa Rosa, Laguna. This captivated the curiosity (and appetite) of the kids, as Lucky Me is a popular noodle brand here in Manila. Finally, the highlight of the day was bringing the participants to Enchanted Kingdom where families enjoyed five hours of what the large theme park has to offer. Many of them shared how much they enjoyed this day and how thankful they are to God for such a wonderful opportunity to learn and bond together.

The happy couple Pastor John (my team leader) and Ate Gela
(one of our team's invaluable social workers) at Rizal Shrine.
Road tripping with students and caregivers of all ages!
Group shot in front of Rizal Shrine.
From left to right: Lezaly, Ate Josie, Shelly, and a giant hippie-wizard guy.

Thanks so much for all your continued support and prayers. I'm excited for the future of what God's doing here in Manila, and we're so blessed just to be a small part of it. Continue to pray for our community here, for my new roles on the team, and for my continued progress in Tagalog beyond formal schooling. Also, pray for our small church in Makati called Jesus King of Kings Community Church. We actually don't have our own church building, but a nearby church kindly allows us to use their building on Sunday afternoons for our weekly service. I want to leave you with a few photos and a video of our new tambourine worship team led by my good friend Ate Josie. Even young children are joining the tambourine team. Shane-Shane is the smallest tambourine dancer in the video (with the green tambourine) and is also one of my Goddaughters. You can also catch a glimpse of many members of our church community worshipping in the video. Enjoy and be blessed!

Ate Josie (front) has taken on the challenge of training youth and
children to dance on Sundays as an expression of worship and joy.

1 comment:

  1. Hi There, I just spent a little time reading through your posts, which I found entirely by mistake whilst researching one of my projects. Please continue to write more because it’s unusual that someone has something interesting to say about this. Will be waiting for more!