Wednesday, October 30, 2013

For the first time in years, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...

Dear friends and family,

Whether you've witnessed the snow yet or not, Christmas is coming! It may seem early, but my team is eagerly planning our annual Christmas parties for the street children in our community. This is the perfect opportunity to share our blessings with those kids and their families. Every Christmas we bring our clients to Jollibee (i.e., the Philippines' own popular fast food chain). There we host a giant Christmas celebration with plenty of food, gifts, games, and even groceries for their families. Not every child will experience a white Christmas, but every child deserves to experience the love, peace, and joy that makes Christmas wonderful. Sharing the story of Christ is an important part of our celebrations for the street kids.

You can share the blessings of Christmas with a street child for just $10 CDN/US (or 420 Philippine Pesos). This provides a meal, gifts, hygiene supplies, and groceries for a child and his/her family. Please email me at for more information on how to give. International Teams issues a tax receipt for all donations. Don't hesitate, as our Christmas parties begin November 30th!

In just a few weeks we are also starting a new feeding program in the community of Putatan where many of our Night Life clients roam the streets. This program will take place three times a week as we hope to bring more children out of malnourishment and offer opportunities to connect them with our educational programs. We are also currently connecting one of our clients Raymond with another NGO named "Kanlungan". Kanlungan is one of our partner organizations who can provide free sign language lessons for Raymond since he is both deaf and mute.

Ana, a local nutritionist, measures the height and weight of each child who will enter our feeding program.
Raymond lives on the street and loves taking care of this litter of stray kittens at our drop-in center.
Not only will Raymond soon be learning sign language, but we are also coordinating with orphanages and the local government to find a home for him (...and his kittens).
The last month has been jam packed with special events, helpful visitors, and answered prayers. One of the memorable events was a meeting with some of the most respected community leaders in our local city hall. Jizza and I attended a two-day seminar with the city mayor, chief prosecutor, social workers, lawyers, and police. We discussed ways to coordinate our efforts in proactively addressing the issue of elementary school drop-outs and children in conflict with the law. We were honoured that IT Tender was invited as the representative and voice for the NGO's in our city! We made some promising connections with government officials and organizations that may be able to work alongside us in the future. Praise God for giving us the opportunity to share what He is doing through IT Tender with the rest of the city.

Here's a brief photo-tour highlighting some other events and programs we enjoyed this last month...

My beautiful fiance Jam is a great addition to our team, assisting with the SLC preschool and Night Life programs.
Being a team leader has matured me in many ways...but I still love to monkey around.
Amanda from Extreme Response (top left) now volunteers at IT Tender every Friday. We also enjoyed the incredible support and encouragement from our three visitors from Stopsley Baptist Church in Luton, England - Becky, John, and Sasha (top middle).
The Brits experience the hospitality of our clients in the Sucat community. 
Miranda (in red) from America has been a great help each week in our Friday programs. Her family is staying in the Philippines while her dad teaches at a prestigious University in Manila.  
We're thankful to our partners at Ontario Christian Gleaners for providing a healthy meal to the children in Night Life.  
"Excuse me, waiter, what are the juice options tonight?" 

We're thankful for the opportunity to train workers at Jesus Our Hope Church to run their own feeding program.
Partnering with young churches allows us to teach them how to use the latest effective strategies we're using in our community. 
Last month, Carly (left) visited and assisted our programs for the second time. Carly and I worked together at a summer camp in Ontario and she is now teaching at an international school in China.
Carly brought along some awesome friends from China including Oliva (left)... 
...and Poty (left). 
Jam and I are excited for a long future serving street children in Manila.
As of next Friday it's been 735 days since I last stepped foot on Canadian soil...but who's counting ;). A visit home is long overdue, and I'm very excited to return for a two-month furlough. I will be in Canada from November 8th to January 8th. This is a time to visit with loved ones, report and promote our programs at IT Tender, and to connect again those who so graciously support me and my work. Please don't hesitate to email or call me so we can set up a time to meet! I'm particularly excited to hear about your stories and experiences!

Of course, it will also be hard to leave my loved ones and the street children of my "second home" for two months. Please pray for our programs, my co-workers, and my fiance Jam in my absence. We are praying that we will be able to get a visa for her to visit Canada sometime next summer before our wedding in October 2014.

Thanks again for following along. Whichever side of the globe you're on, I hope to see you soon!

John Coffey
Director of IT Tender

Caring for street children ~ Isaiah 58:10

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