It’s our third day here, and I already wish our trip was a lot longer than what it is. Nine days seemed a lot longer when I was back in Illinois, not sweating in Manila. I love it, and I am so happy here; I do not want to leave and go back to where I feel like I can’t help the kids as much as I can when I am here.
The kids are amazing; as usual. They’re all so sweet to us, and greet us like family. Today I was helping in the kindergarten 1 room at Frontline Christian Academy, and little Rashelle came up to give me a hug and introduce me as “Ate Abby.” The little ones smile all the time and let us pick them up 24/7. We all were calling ‘dibs’ on Baby Issac. Even though he has no teeth he never fails to smile.
Everyone here is welcoming, and I feel so comfortable with all the people. I love the church services here, everyone sings and is so spiritual. Mrs. Pessina (Winnie) and her family treat everyone with such respect, she’s raised her kids so nicely.
I miss home a lot, and I really want my family here with me. I wish I could take my house and all the people I know to the Philippines. I love it here, and I love the food! It’s only been a few days and I can already feel my relationship with God developing more and more.
I love it here, and I do not want to leave!
June 28, 2011
It’s our third day here, and I already wish our trip was a lot longer than what it is. Nine days seemed a lot longer when I was back in Illinois, not sweating in Manila. I love it, and I am so happy here; I do not want to leave and go back to where I feel like I can’t help the kids as much as I can when I am here.
June 28, 2011
Everything is going great in the PI now!!!
Bob Clinkert can’t get the blog to work so its all his fault!!
We’ll keep trying!!
June 14, 2010
This time tomorrow I will be on a flight from Manila to Hong Kong on my way back home. This has been one of the best experiences of my life on so many levels.
• On the outside, I found the landscape, weather, life routine, traffic, random people, all interesting, sometimes beautiful, and all valuable, especially since I have never spent any significant time outside of the U.S.
• Internally, I wrestle with the immediate emotions of wanting to help the hungry, the unclothed, the sick, the unwelcome as Jesus asked us to with the intellectual conditioning of being rooted elsewhere. What is the balance between helping here and being in full-time ministry at home? For the teens, this could eventually be home in their world of ideals and dreams that have time to come true. And I have no doubt, none, that one or more of them will come back here and call it home someday. But my situation is obviously different, so I will pray and listen for what I do from here. I do know I’d like to return.
• On the deepest level, I am changed without chance of parole. The seeds that have been planted in me during my time at Pilsen, or for that matter CCC over the years, received a huge watering during my trip. God’s purpose for us here on earth is to help people believe in Jesus and help them live a better life. As many daily actions as we can accomplish should try to meet these two purposes. I know I will return to the States looking to do more to remove suffering from and add faith to others.
That was the opening monologue. If you have somewhere to be, you might just save the rest for later. Here is the update on the last 3 days:
Saturday morning, yesterday, Billy and I slept in til 10am. The others went off somewhere that I do not remember. We spent all afternoon at FTC with the kids and during that time, a torrential rain storm lasting about 2 hours just pounded the area. Some of us stayed dry watching a Filipino movie on the Spanish acquisition of the islands and the introduction of Catholicism in 1521. It is Philippines Independence Day (from the Spanish) today, the 14th, so all week there have been celebrations. The movie was in Filipino and Spanish. What a mess.
Saturday dinner was pizza at the Bluebox which was celebrating its contributors and investors. Then we all went off to watch the Santo Nino Baranguay team (mostly Frontline players) play another baranguay for the bball championship of baranguays. In a word it was intense. Sto. Nino, once down by 17 in the first half, roared back to win by 3.
Sunday: church at the Blubox where Bobby played drums and Jessica and Michelle sang with the band on the English songs (pix and video on the way on FB). In a basketball 2 on 2 earlier in the week, Bobby and Jake almost beat David and Mike, who are on the Frontline team, but almost doesn’t count in bball. So the almost-winners had to buy the actual winners dinner at Outback. So we all went Sunday late afternoon and had great filet dinners with all the trimmings and drinks for $18 American each on average. Jessica and Michelle split cheese fries (put puzzled look and comment here). Outback was preceded by an afternoon of shopping and browsing in one of the near-Manila malls, quite big and high-end. This was clearly the flip-side of the Filipino economy we were seeing. After Outback, we indulged in the air conditioned theater and saw The Karate Kid. Two thumbs up as a family movie from this critic. Then back to base camp. Thanks to David for driving us all 90 minutes each way.
That brings us up to today, Monday, June 14th. After a blueberry pancake and corned beef hash breakfast at the Pessina’s watching the Celtics beat the Lakers to take a 3 games to 2 lead in the best of 7 match, Jake and Bobby went off to a bball rematch with David and Mike with the girls (Billy has not been feeling well and eventually slept all day today). I went off to sit in on the Frontline Worship Center’s version of the Big Idea meeting with Pastor Jeff and the CPs, Max, Ruel, and Noriel. Also in attendance were Rhoda, McKoy, and Frontline’s first missionary, Fred.
Fred’s life story makes mine seem like Disneyland. Fred does not have the use of his legs, yet he walks around with his hands and arms moving his feet in front of him. You cannot even picture this until you’ve seen him do it. He also uses a wheelchair but Jeff told me that has been a recent development. Fred has spent most of his life like this, preaching the gospel in the Philippines, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Russian Georgia, and Finland, where he now lives.
Anyway, I finished the meeting while Jake and Bobby were losing a best of five in the rematch. The bet was for t-shirts designed by the winners that the losers have to wear. Update on this on the other blogs, I’m sure. I think conventional wisdom is that the shirts will be pink with some embarrassing saying or two. Afternoon saw me at FTC for a few hours for final goodbyes with the kids while the rest of the group went to the San Pablo market. This time at FTC was so memorable. Some of the kids wrote me notes in my journal, we took many pictures, which I’ll try to post on FB, and I got to talk with each of them one-on-one before the truck came back to fetch me. I must admit, I was choked up on a few of the goodbyes.
At 5pm, I was honored to be able to give another small group training session for the Bluebox and Balocbox leaders using the same material I used with the Greenbox last week. There were 24 leaders and apprentices there and I was humbled at the opportunity. It lasted til 6pm.
At 6:30, the American CCC team was recognized at the Frontline Weekly Leadership Community. Each of us had a few minutes to share our reflections of the three weeks preceding. It was an emotional time. During this time of LC there were words by Jeff Pessina and his longtime brother, Fred, and finally a huge feast of spaghetti and meat sauce and dori fish! Yum. The night closed out with some Americano vs. Filipino bball, for which I stayed through the first game. They are playing as I type – I can hear the dribbling now.
Thank you for reading these posts, those who have. I have felt led to share as much as I had time to do to let many know what this ministry is doing here and how much of a worthy cause it is. I hope I will have more time to talk with you in person back home.
June 11, 2010
• I am no missionology expert by any stretch of the imagination, and never will be, but short-term mission trips do not have to hurt.
• Thank you COMMUNITY Downtown Campus for your flip-flops. After reading the blog posts put up by the students recently, I forgot they were given out cuz I was at another station at Divisoria. They were beautiful and had love written all over them.
• So proud of Michelle.
• For the record, the only reason I can blog more is because I’m too tired to do everything the students do! I need more recovery time. Every member on the team has his gift. Mine is knowing when it’s time to rest (lol).
• The bug reputation out here is overrated. Yeah, you might see some weird beetle, like the one we found on night #1, but for the most part, it’s no big deal. I wish we saw more lizards, tho.
• One of the unexpected gifts I will return with on Thursday is a deeper dependence on the bible. I have been asked to speak to small and large groups while here and I’ve taught some leader classes, and I found inspiration I didn’t realize I could have helping me select verses and parables that were just right for the moment. Go Holy Spirit!
• Happy Birthday, Stephanie, in Boston (It’s still June 11th there). We miss you.
• Another unexpected gift happened last night in a life group with Billy, Jake, and me. We read the parable of the seed sower – hard ground, thorns, fertile ground. We talked about it for about 30 minutes, and then, I felt moved to ask who had not accepted Jesus as Lord and only Savior. There were 10 Filipinos in the group. Four of them raised their hands. After carefully (and excitedly inside) explaining the salvation story, I asked each one if he/she understood and wanted tonight to be the first night of a new life in Jesus. All four raised their hands. I prayed, Aiza translated, and they all prayed along and become new brothers and sisters in Christ. Please pray for Helen, Pez, Jennica, and Jamie.
• Quasi, one of the Filipino leaders of the same group, commented on Pastor Ruel and the Frontline church’s approach after the prayer. He said, all the other church’s missionaries that come through here try to get us to join their church. Not you. You talk about relationship with God. That’s good.
Amen, brother Quasi.
• Can see how easy it is to fall in love with the FTC kids. I wrote 11 good-bye notes yesterday to give to them on Tuesday and I was struck that I knew that many well enough to say something meaningful, specific, and personal on my first trip. In fact, I could have probably scratched out a few more if I jog my memory and might before I leave.
• Spent many hours with Jeff Pessina yesterday, Friday, as we drove into Manila to pick up a color printer and confirm my return ticket. Both objectives were met without problem and the quality time was inspiring to me. The dream here is BIG as Dave and Jon tell us it should be. This is a very worthy cause.
• I relax at night after FB and email and blog with some spy-vs-spy easy reading, The Doomsday Key, by James Rollins. It won’t brush up your Shakespeare, but it will keep you on the edge of your virtual seat while your body and mind drift off to dreamland.
• Teenage dancing is big here. The best boys are better than the best girls in this reporter’s opinion. But I think they have a long way to go to compete with the Chicago break dancers I have seen. Still, it’s great to watch, and they are dancing for God.
• If I hear Justin Beaver one more time I’m going to smash the iPod or phone I hear it on and waste all the good will we may have banked so far.
• Videoke is bigger than sleep here.
• Killer UNO is the Official Game of the 2010 CCCPI Trip.
• Max (Blue), Noriel (Baloc), and Ruel (Green), CPs of the boxes here are as passionate about hpftwbtG as anyone in Chicago. You see the mission on t-shirts and banners and hear it from stage. They are big fans.
• The food here that Winnie Pessina has prepared for us every day has been outstanding. I guess I was envisioning power bars and k-rations every day, but that is far from the situation. Thank you, Ate’ Winnie. The jeans that fit when I left Chicago are now tighter!
• We have had an attache’ or guide or friend-driver with us the whole trip, David Covic. He’s a great guy and has made our trip exciting and fun (read exciting any way you like). But I especially like the way David brings out the I-hate-to-lose-ness in Bobby.
• Finally, having written all that I have about this place, I miss home, Maria, Maureen (especially), and my peeps in Pilsen. What I am experiencing here will undoubtedly affect for the better what I do at my campus. And I think I can still help with what is going on here at the same time, God willing. I just got to figger that out. It may become another Abraham story – obedience does not require understanding.
June 10, 2010
As I sit here and write, I am in unbelief as to how quickly time has passed us by. It feels like just yesterday we had arrived in the Philippines and were unpacking our bags. But now we have less than a week left here. The trip has been incredibly moving and eventful to this point for every team member. We cannot wait to share pictures, videos, and stories with all of you. I will attempt to upload some pics to the blog later today.
We have done so much lately. Steve has had some time to blog and has covered most of it, but we will give you some different view points on it through the different people that have experienced the trip.
As for me (Bobby), my love for the Philippines has only grown.
We have done everything from ice skating with FTC to drumming and singing in the Tent Outreach to washing the feet of the poorest of the poor. But I have been here 5 times so I will let the rest of the team explain their feelings to you.
I LOVE THE PHILIPPINES SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH LITERALLY IM NEVER LEAVING NOOOOOOOOOOOOO I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!
anyway, now that that’s out of my system!
I’ve really realllly enjoyed my experience here. This has been my 3rd and longest trip to the PI. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to spend a 3 full weeks here and to have experienced all that i have experienced!
Since we have done so much its almost impossible to describle EVERYTHING in detail, so I will just write about one or two of my most impactful experiences.
Last Saturday, June 5th (I think!) we went to a super poor area in Manila. The city is about 2.5 hours away, but the drive took much longer, closer to 3.5 hours because the truck we were driving in broke down! but after the transportation issues, the day went really smoothly. We got the chance to wash the feet of children, supply them with brand new flip flops (which were donated from a group at CCC) and give them a chance to express their dreams. There were 4 stations at the event that day, at one the kids got beaded bracelets with colors that represented what Jesus did for us. At another the kids were given paper and crayons and drew pictures of their biggest dreams. It was so sad to see that a large majority of the dreams were simply a happy family, a house, clothes and love. How many times a day do we take that for granted? It was heartbreaking to see the condition of these kids. Another station was the foot washing station. There, we had the task of washing the feet of these street children. Some of them have no shoes so their feet were EXTREMELY dirty; it was humbling to see- knowing that at the end of the day we have the luxury of cleaning our feet if we feel like it, and some of these kids hadn’t washed their feet in months or years. The whole day was great, we got to sing songs with the kids and play games with them and just share time and love with them. One of the kids even pulled out a picture of him with Elizabeth from last year when we went! The kids are so sweet, they remember us and are always hugging us and showing love. I love the Divisoria day because it inspires me to make a change to help out the kids who have so much potential! It was a great, emotional day!
2. Baloc- We have had a couple opportunities to visit the dumpsite of San Pablo City, and each time I am amazed and impacted. We always work with Pastor Noriel, the pastor of BalocBox campus; He is super cool and so passionate about people and sharing the gospel. When we went into the dumpsite the first time, we visited families who already attended church and we visited and encouraged them, and prayed for them. The 2nd time was different, we visited families who do not attend the church regularly. We tried to encourage them to attend and we prayed for them. It was heartbreaking to see one family who had two kids, both with the same sickness. We are trying to find a way to get the kids medicine, but it is just so sad to see the condition in which they live. I cannot imagine living there; it really inspires me to want to make a change in the world. It is a good long term goal to try to make businesses to provide jobs for people like the ones living in Baloc. I really love love love visiting baloc because so many of the people still have trust and faith in God even though their circumstances are so bad. And the church staff is really inspiring to me. I wish we could spend more time there!
WISH I COULD WRITE MORE AND STAY HERE FOREVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!! MAHAL NA MAHAL NA MAHAL NA MAHAL NA MAHAL NA MAHAL NA MAHAL KITA PHILIPPINES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
wowwwwwz i don’t even know where in the world to start!!!
IM STILL DREAMING I LOVE IT HERE SO MUCH! AND IM NEVER LEAVINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG! ( bobby hates when i write that)
well over the past few days we have done so so so so much! God has definitely been working through our hearts and the people around us! We have been so blessed by the encounters we have had with some of the most amazing people! This is the longest trip i have ever taken to the philippines and i can actually say that it feels like home now! it feels like this is where i belong :D.
Some of the events we have done in the past few days is taking the FTC kids ice skating and out to eat at pizza hut! it was a blast!!! Bobby kept trying to knock me over, but he never succeeded of course! i ice skated with banjo the most, we had so much fun even though it was only some of the kids 2nd times ice skating they still were so good! we also got to go to a service at Baloc, which is in the garbage dump where they started another campus! pastor noriel and his church continues to amaze me! The holy spirit is so alive in Baloc, the people there, you can feel God inside of them! We got to hang out with the youth leaders there and we have become really close with them! Also, we did visitations in Baloc at the houses in the dumpsite, i got to share with a guy who didnt know the Lord yet, him and his family were really hurt by their circumstances and felt really hopeless, i shared my testimony and about how God would die for only them if they were the only people on earth! Gail and Mr. Caballero also shared with some families, it was really powerful! I never stop thinking about those people in Baloc, they deserve so much more than what they are given, and I know it is my job to help them! I can’t wait to start business in college so that with Gods help i can start up some business ideas that will help give those people in baloc an opportunity to live the way they deserve too! We also went to divisoria, which is also one of my favorite parts of the trip! we got to wash feet, which is my all time favorite! we got to help the kids color and they were supposed to color the dream of their hearts. it was so touching because most of them drew houses with a picture of their family in front of it. My heart is so broken by the circumstances of the kids in divisoria. all of them barely had clothes and almost none had shoes, they all had some sort of infection or sores all over them, but they were still the most beautiful kids i have ever met! We got to hand out flip flops that the naperville north highschool campus at CCC made for them! what a blessing! we gave so many kids shoes because the people at CCC put in time to buy and decorate flip flops! I seriously can’t even begin to write about all that has happened, it is so hard to put into words! Through my life i hope that i can continue to use what i have been blessed with to help others! people have so much potential if we all just work together to help each other! klsefjsjfslkfjeoifjsijflskfjlksdjfoiefji so much going on in my brain!! I love the FTC kids, i have grown so close to all of them!! we are like all family here, it is going to rip me apart to leave! I can’t believe that half my heart will be across the entire world here in the philippines! I thank the Lord so much for these opportunities to build relationships and grow with these incredible people! I thank my grandparents, parents and bobby for helping me to be able to go on this trip!!!! I am SOOOO thankful! I miss gail and katelyn so much! The country of the philippines is so beautiful and so are all the people!!!!!!!!!!!!!! plkease let me stay here! <3
LOVE EVERYONE RA RA RA RA
<2 byeeeeeeeee na burning passport na
so much to say yet so little time <3
I still can't even believe that I'm here in the Philippines. The trip has gone so much faster than I ever expected and ever wanted. I love it here. It really has been one of the most impacting trip of my life. Although I've only known the FTC kids for two weeks, I feel like I've known them forever. I've come to know most of them very well and they're all awesome! I loved going to the pool and ice skating with them. You could see in their expressions how much they enjoyed those little trips to places we go to all the time and don't even think about it. I don't want to leave and it's gonna be sooo hard to say goodbye to all of them. The places we've gone and the things we've seen has really showed me how good we have it. I think going to the dump site has showed me that the most. They literally scavenge for their food and clothes in the piles of garbage that arrive there everyday. I couldn't even imagine having to live like that. Going to Divisoria was one of my favorite experiences as well. It was amazing to see how much the kids loved seeing us even though we didn't even know them. Many of them even tried to make hand shakes in the first 10 seconds I met them. I think giving out the flip flops was the most impactful part of the event. We had to have the near by police help keep the lines from getting too out of hand and eventually we had to stop because kids were getting pushed down by adults so it was too dangerous. It was amazing to see how desperate the people were just to get a simple pair of flip flops. In the states, that would have been like nothing and not many people would have cared at all. But here, it was as if we were handing out $1000.
I'm sooooo thankful for being able to go on this trip. It truly has been one of the best experiences of my life and I don't want to leave.
June 9, 2010
It’s Wednesday night and the day is almost done here at base camp at Frontline. Getting an internet signal is difficult so took off about 15 minutes ago in search of a signal better than one bar. The closer you get to the Pessina house, where the router is, the better the signal obviously. So I went out hunting for bars. I was trying not impose on their house, but I was sitting on their bench outside of the house when Jonathan, eldest son(?), came home, saw me there and invited me in. So, I am taking advantage of the hospitality of the Pessina’s, who keep their family room screen door open and the light on well into the evening. They have said many times to us that we are welcome to come and go anytime. So, I now have 5 bars on my wifi connection because I am literally 4 feet from the router. Bethany Pessina, youngest daughter, is fighting with Skype, Joel, youngest son, is watching a cable special on killer carp, and I’m enjoying this bit of home away from home.
The rest of my group is doing something, maybe playing UNO again. I don’t know.
The last we met, Jake was a Brontosaurus, Billy was a T-Rex, and they were terrorizing little kids. Good work if you can get it. Last night we went to one of the many “Crusades” Frontline runs here. The week-long event’s main purpose is to preach the message of salvation in neighborhoods around the area but it is wrapped in an awesome, entertaining tortilla that brings the hungry and thirsty in from the nearby neighborhoods. This particular night, Rhoda Lynn Pessina, eldest daughter and impressive vocalist, started off with the popular Miley Cyrus song, “The Climb.” She sang another popular song, judging from the singalong-ers in the audience (under a big-top-like huge tent) and then some old man from Chicago was invited to come up and give his testimony. Someone translated into Tagalog while this guy talked in English. I heard from Michelle that it wasn’t bad, so I got that going for me.
Throughout the night, there was alternating music and youth break dancing, both very well done. Billy was photog with Katelyn’s camera, so FB will have all the good shots of the event. Eventually Angelo, from FTC, and Noriel, the campus pastor from the Balocbox gave the message and the altar call. Several dozen people answered the call and all of the American mission team came up and helped pray with for the people. It was a moving event.
Back at the ranch, UNO! Michelle was having a life-record great game and Bobby was, well, not living up to his expectations of crushing David from FTC. I called it quits at 10:30pm, in 2nd place behind Billy. And that was my Wednesday.
Today began early, as Green Box Pastor Ruel picked us all up at 7:30am for a morning of what he calls visitations – casual, walk-about dropping in to homes of people in his church. It promised to be another hot one here, 85-90F with mid-80’s humidity. We drove to a Baranguay named Santissimo, where huge rice paddies stretched out before us. We walked through the rice fields along paths that had been built through the middle of the paddies to keep our feet out of the water and mud rice likes to grow in. We reached the homes and split up into groups. Jessica and I went with Pastor Ruel. We visited several families, asked how they are doing and prayed for them. Interestingly, their homes were very well-kept and nicely decorated (for them). They were small but afforded the owners and renters protection from the elements and a place to gather, eat and sleep. What was immediately evident was that Ruel has tight relationships with these people, almost all of whom are either in a life-group or come to Sunday service at the box. One of our stops was in the home of a mon and dad whose 19-year old daughter had recently left and was living with a guy. The mom was struggling to accept and forgive. Jessica prayed for this family.
My last stop was alone with Ruel to visit Eileen, a single mom who was suffering from serious depression because her husband had left her with two 1-year old twins for another woman. She had just been released from the hospital the previous day after a 2-day stay for a suicide attempt. The husband was a drug user and gambler and is providing no money at all for her or the kids. She saw Ruel in the doorway and immediately went to him and cried on his shoulder as he comforted her. We then sat with her and talked. This week, she fed the twins only water and sugar for their meals. She has her mother in the neighborhood to help out but she is not in a position to do anything significant. After some discussion, we determined that Eileen needs P3000 per month ($65) to support herself and her two twin babies (see my FB profile pic), Joseph and Jillian. I don’t know her long-term plan, but we left there knowing she had the next month’s food, rent, water, soap, etc. covered, if you know what I mean. We prayed for her, met up with the rest of our group and headed back to base camp. The walk from the car to the neighborhoods across the treeless rice fields was about 20 minutes each way; good tanning opportunity! Yikes.
Lunch and rest for me til 2pm, when Pastor Ruel came back to bring me to a life group (community small group) at the mall in downtown San Pablo City. You talk about nuts?! Between the vegetable, fruit, and (many) fish open air markets and the cheap store front vendors like you see on the streets of any city, except the merchandise is really bad, 2-way traffic barely had a lane and a half to negotiate. Trikes, cars, busses; it was chaos. We parked in a not-so-sweet-smelling underground garage and took the stairs up into the mall. Fox Valley or Oak Brook malls this was not. It was crowded, hot, and there were a million cell phone and electronics stands outside the stores and restaurants that lined the outer wall. The life-group was up on the top floor in an air-conditioned office. All the experiences of getting there were worth it over the next hour fifteen. These people have built real community. I was honored by being asked to lead the group, so we talked about being Salt and Light. By the end of the group, many of the members had tears in their eyes from one of the testimonies or stories they had heard. I wish I could go into more detail. It was a great experience.
While I was in the life-group, the rest of our CCC group visited the hospital again. Look for their posts and pics for details.
I stayed with Ruel all afternoon, talked small groups, dinner-ed at his house and then met with 18 of his small group leaders and apprentices, where I taught a CCC Small Group Leader 101 class. The people here are so hungry for knowledge and improvement. They were a great group and we had a delicious rice (surprise!) dish after the training session. Most of the people in the group spoke some English so I made some cool new friends. Thank you to Nancy for letting us use her home and to Richelle, JC, and Rudolf for making me feel comfortable. You guys are great.
I connected back up with our group at tonight’s Crusade event. Same format, but with a twist. In the band were some Americanos!!!! Bobby on drums, Jessica and Michelle on vocals. I missed their first set, which included “Jesus Take the Wheel,” but I caught their second set at the close, two worship songs. We prayed for the people accepting Jesus up in front of the stage. Then all climbed in the Frontline bus and headed back to the ranch.
So here we are. Bethany is still fighting with Skype, although I can tell from her expression she’s having some success. I am going to say good night and thank you all for reading and commenting. I feels good to stay connected.
June 8, 2010
From Steve …
Right now (Tuesday, June 8, 4PM), Bobby and Michelle are playing basketball with Rico, Jake and Billy and Frontline twin kids, CJ and BJ, are uploading photo’s from Katelyn’s camera, Jessica is not within my range of vision, maybe in her room. We are on an open spot in the schedule til 5PM. Week 3 has officially begun for us.
Yesterday we took the FTC kids ice-skating. It was so fun. They haven’t been ice-skating since this group took them last year. We rented the whole rink for an hour at P600 ($35) for all 30+ skaters. The pictures for this event should be up on FB today. Billy is doing that now. After skating, we took everyone to Pizza Hut and then back to San Pablo. The ride was 90 minutes each way. The kids had the no-A/C bus and gratefully, the visitors had the one with air.
Even tho we had the A/C the ride was still depleting for this reporter, as is the trip as it gets on in days. I must be honest; not in enthusiasm or in expectancy or joy when I am with the kids or talking to the Pastors of the various boxes, but physically. I am convinced this is a young-man’s game, as they say, or at least a game for which one needs to train. Not that I don’t have the heart for it or willingness, but the students in our group have so much more energy and patience with the kids’ noise and need for attention. I feel like I have to develop that, which may just be adjusting my compassion and commitment meter. I’m also guessing the more you know the people and kids, the more you feel like they are family, and that just takes time and frequency. Here’s where Jake gets big kudos because he has connected with the kids in a real natural way and this is his first trip. Like right now, 3:34PM, Bobby and Jake are in the room wrestling with 3 six and seven year olds (Rico, CJ and BJ). They and Billy did the same thing last night after playing full-court 5-5 basketball with the Frontline team! They wore out the kids last night, who eventually fell asleep in their room. It’s an awesome relationship to observe, our sons and daughters with all these kids who at one time were unloved and alone before FTC gave them a home. How much more in tune with God and His will they are than we were, parents, growing up. How proud of them we should be.
Gail and Katelyn left at 2AM for the airport and their return trip home together. We haven’t heard anything by now about their 5:30am flight so we are assuming all went well. This morning we went to the San Pablo City jail for the second time. The girls went to the women’s dorm and the boys, we sat and talked with the men leaders, heard a few testimonies from the men plus a testimony from Elmer Pessina, the adopted young-teen son of the Lead Pastor of Frontline and His wife, Jeff and Rowena (Winnie) Pessina. Elmer was invited in off the streets a few years ago and gave an awesome testimony about how God is good and has given him a chance at a healthy life. Here’s this 12-13 year old kid giving a strong testimony (his first time ever) to a group of 8 or 9 adult prison inmates, and Elmer is doing the encouraging to keep their faith in the Lord! Pretty amazing stuff.
We didn’t stay inside as long this week, but there was a group of “quarantined” sick inmates with mouth masks sitting on the floor of the cellblock, not in any cell. We were told that these prisoners were sick and needed to stay out in the hall on the floor until they got better. There was no sick-bay or wing for them to have a bed and they had to come out of their cells where at least they shared a twin-mattress with someone. Bobby and I prayed over them. Then each of us in the men’s group, Jake, Billy, Bobby, and I split up and each took a cell or two of men to pray for. It was so stinking hot in that prison today. It was a high of 90-95F outside most of the day (right now it’s cooler as t-storms are coming in).
We hit the 7-11 after the prison because we are out of bottled water at base camp. A new supply is due today, but we haven’t seen it yet. This afternoon has been lazy. Lunch, some furious UNO (with new twists and turns in the rules which made it fun for some, not for others). Billy just left with Joel, one of the Pessina’s sons to go shoot some soft-pellet guns at immobile objects (hopefully).
Gail and Katelyn’s names have come up half a dozen times already. It’s like we have a gap that’s unfilled after spending two weeks every day with them. Miss them.
More to come. Thanks for reading.
P.S. BJ just ran up to me wide-eyed and exasperated, whispered, “Jake is a brontosaurus!”