Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Now I'm totally fine with another girl and would be truly happy either way, with a new son or daughter, but I can't help wanting a girl for her sake. This new baby will either turn out to be a great faith builder for Grace or a lesson in trusting that God's choices for our lives are the best ones for us. Meanwhile, she continues to insist that she is having a baby sista. Jessica thought that if it turns out that we are having a baby boy, it would be better if the news came from the doctor. We would either get to celebrate God's answer to her prayer or we could all be mad at the mean old doctor for telling us that were having another boy.
As Grace sat on my shoulders, we watched the screen showing the images of the baby in Jessica's womb. Grace observed with us the baby's heart beating, it's spine, arms and legs, and finally the baby's face. The doctor printed out copies of the images for us, but unlike in the States, for some reason, she said they don't tell the gender of the baby till around the sixth month of pregnancy. So for now it is still a mystery for Jess and I . . . but not for Grace. She looked at the picture of the ultra sound and declared, "It looks like a girl!" She has more faith than we do. Perhaps she should become an ultrasound technician when she grows up. We would appreciate your prayers for the health and safety of Jessica and this new baby, and for God's perfect will in regard to it's gender. Click here to read part 2.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Monday, March 20, 2006
Since it was a hot day and there was no where for us to sit at the bridge (I had brought Jessica, Kian, and Christian with me) we walked down the street and sat at a few tables out side the gas station's convienence store. Ate Dora told us that one time she needed a picture for an I.D. and since she did not have one she had to use her sister's picture. She said that they look similar, but the picture on HER ID is not of her. Hopefully no one will look to closely and cause an embarassing momment for Ate Dora. We gave a picture to Robert also. One of him and I playing chess along side the bridge. He said that somehow he is going to nail it to the block wall in his house. I know that these are little things, but they do communicate that we care about them. My family and I drove over the bridge last night at around 9pm. It was dark and everyone around and under the bridge were no doubt sleeping by then, but I could not help to pray and think about them as we passed by. Please remember them in your prayers as we minister to them and try to get the local church involved in helping us reach out to them. CLICK HERE to read more
Monday, March 13, 2006
Early the next morning Jeffrey called me and said, "I have a wheel chair, where can we meet so that I can give it to you?" Jess and I were excited and praised the Lord for this blessing. As we were on our way to pick it up, I pictured a dusty old wheel chair that someone had hidden away in their garage. That was not a disappointing thought and we were grateful for the Lord’s provision, but when we met Jeffery, he carried a box to our van. The wheel chair was brand new! We couldn’t wait to bring it to Robert on Monday when we would visit him next.
That Monday afternoon we pulled up to Robert’s bridge (We also brought Kian, Christian, and Grace with us). I went a head of them to call down to Robert so that he would have a few minutes to get ready for visitors. After sharing greetings with each other I told him, “May regalo ako para sa iyo” (I have a gift for you). He got ready while I went back to our van to get my family and the box. Kian helped me carry the box as Christian followed. I was a little worried that Robert might be disappointed because he had mentioned in the past that he wanted a special three wheel bike made for handicapped people. I hoped that he would be pleased with this wheel chair because I really believe that it can change his life. He will no longer be trapped at the bridge all day. He can move around, go to cooler places when it is too hot or even look for some kind of work. When we reached him with the fairly large and heavy box, he read the side. "O, a wheel chair", he exclaimed. I couldn’t tell if he was excited or disappointed, but he didn’t waste much time climbing over the rail to sit in it and try it out. In Tagalog, he started talking about the three wheel bike again, but we encouraged him to try it out. I suggested that we all take a walk down the street to the gas station convenience store to get a cool drink. It was a very hot and humid day and there is no shade near Robert’s place.
I could tell that Robert was a little uneasy, but he went with us. He asked me to push him down the bridge because it was a little steep, but once we got to the bottom he took over. He was a little shaky at first while getting used to controlling the chair. The side walk before the bridge has so many holes and cracks in it that we were forced to move to the street. I was praying inside, “Lord protect him and don’t let him get discouraged.” We finally made it to the gas station and walked into the store while Robert rolled into it. It was only about a block from his home, but this was probably the first time he had ever been inside of it, or any other store. We bought a few drinks and sat out in the shade to enjoy them. Then Robert shared that one time someone tried to give him a chair, but he was too embarrassed to use it, so he refused to take it, which made his brother Lito very unhappy. As Jessica and I wondered why he took the wheel chair this time, we speculated that it was because he knew us and that we were there to encourage and help him get started. As we practiced using the chair in the parking lot of the gas station he was quickly getting the hang of it. People from the community who often saw Robert sitting on the rail of the bridge were looking at us and smiling at us. I pray that Robert will get comfortable using the chair and that this will open up many new doors in his life. Next time I visit him, I will take him for a stroll to a near by fast food place to share some ice cream and to play a game of chess in a clean air conditioned place. Robert knows that I am a missionary and that it is the love of Christ that compels me to love him and the rest of the people at the bridge. However, the most loving thing that I can do for him is not to get him a wheel chair, rice, or medicine. The most loving thing that I can do for Robert and the families who live at the bridge is to share the good news that Jesus Christ loves them and wants to forgive their sins if they will trust in Him. Regardless of their response to Jesus I will continue to serve them, but I will never stop sharing the good news about Jesus with them. I can’t wait to see what the Lord does in their heart’s trough us. Click here to read more.
Friday, March 10, 2006
There were clothes hanging on lines and in the windows of their houses. Ate Dora jokingly calls the houses under the bridge "condos" because they are nicer than the homes like Robert's that are fixed between the bridge and the road. These homes are improvised with pieces of wood, metal, and tarps. They were built on stilts so that they don't get flooded when the river rises. Ate Dora told me that they have to move to higher ground sometimes during the typhoon season. It's not uncommon for families who are living as squatters along side the river to be swept away during the night while they are sleeping. This happens when typhoons cause the water to rise quickly. The squatters who have no electricity, and therefore no television or radio, sometimes have no idea that a typhoon is coming.
I was told that there were about 15 or 16 families living under and around the bridge, but I don't know how many people are living there all together. There are dozens of bridges like this that cross the Marikina River and I can't help but wonder if those bridges have communities living under them too. When I first met the children who live here they were respectfully calling me "Kuya."(a title meaning "big brother" that you would call an older male) It was cute as I was visiting with Robert the other day and they were calling out, "Kuya Sean." I guess they are getting used to me being around.
As I was walking through the structures leading to Ate Dora's house, I was hoping that the brown water that was running across the path was not human waste. I didn't want to give the appearance of uneasiness -- this was their home -- so I walked straight ahead watching my steps till we reached her house. I said a quick prayer in my head as I drank the water she offered me, a kindness which I was not about to refuse. As I sat in Ate Dora's house, which was probably no more than a 10X10 space, we had pleasant conversation. She pulled a hand fan and began fanning me, her grand child, and herself all in one motion. She has about 15 grandchildren. She told me how one of her daughters-in-law could no longer take the living conditions or married life so she abandoned her husband and two sons (The little boys towards the back in this picture).
I'm praying about the possibility of bringing a genorator down there so that I can bring our projector to show a movie for the kids followed by the Jesus film. We will see what the Lord will enable us to do. Click here to read more.
Monday, March 06, 2006
During a previous visit with Robert I learned that he likes to play the game chess. I picked up a small set and we have played during our last two times together and he has beaten me six out of six games. I would never have guessed that a guy who has only finished about three grades of elementary school could be so good at chess. Its not that I'm a horrible player; Robert is good! He is a smart man. I also picked up a couple of plastic stools so I can sit and chat with him.
Knowing that Robert's place has no running water or electricity, I asked him where he went to the bathroom. Laughing, he pointed to where I was sitting and various places around me for number one, and he said that they do number two on pieces of paper and then throw it into the river. That explained the smell, but I learned years ago that the Philippines is a land of many smells.
This was yet another educational and enjoyable time with my friend Robert. Click here to read more.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
As we drove into my subdivision (housing track) I could see the amazement in their faces. Even the smallest house in my neighborhood is huge compared to the little shelters they had made for themselves. After we pulled up into my garage Lito helped me close the gate while Robert climbed down out of the van and dragged himself into my house. I wonder what they were thinking as they came into my house for the first time. My place is like a mansion compared to their improvised little shelters. I pulled up some chairs for them so we could all talk. I was anxious to have my wife Jessica ask them some questions that I wasn't able to because of my lack of Tagalog speaking abilities. She was born in the Philippines and knows a lot more Tagalog than I do. I was wondering why Robert can't use crutches. I tried to ask him that and he said he couldn't, but I did not understand him when he explained why.
As the conversation continued with Robert and Lito, we learned that Robert can play the guitar. I didn't know what to expect, but I brought mine out and let him play. I was pleasantly surprised at how well he could play the guitar and sing. After eating Robert's favorite dish together for lunch I put on a DVD for us to watch. Robert, Lito, and I watched The Passion of Christ together. It was very quite after that movie, which I think is a normal repsonse to it. While driving them home I asked them, "What did you guys think of the movie?" Robert said, "Jesus sure suffered a lot for us!" I agreed with him and then I asked them if they knew why. The did not, so I explained, "Kasi maraming Kasalanan tayo (because we have many sins)." They both agreed with the fact that we all have a lot of sins. I told them that I would get them bigger bibles than the small Tagalog New Testament that I had already given them.
We had a nice time together, getting to know each other better. This was the day that I began to share with them why God had brought me to the Philppines and why He was using me to help them. This was our fourth meeting. Click here to read more.