On Cebu City:
On our second day in Cebu we entered a school, River of Praise, to be warmly welcomed by hundreds of children who were waiting for their Christian friends from America. Marvella and Glen were there with us guiding us into the small area packed with wonderful children. The children ran up to us, took our hand, and lifted it to their foreheads giving us a blessing. This is “mano,” a sign of respect. We were humbled as we felt so welcomed into the Philippine culture. I was reminded of the words of Jesus, “Let the little children come to me.”
We enjoyed a cultural performance of music and dance and then we were divided up so that we could visit in the classrooms and share about God’s love. We sang, we laughed, we talked, and we even judged a food contest! Yes, the school was packed to overflowing with kids but more importantly, with love, so much love.
On our time in Bohol, a smaller, more rural island that was greatly affected by the earthquake:
It seems that children are children everywhere and not surprisingly for our team, Renee and Jonathan were an immediate hit. Soon Renee was Princess Nay with her golden hair and beautiful blue eyes. Jonathan utilized his basketball skills and played and played. The kids never wanted to stop. Renee played “Duck, Duck, Goose” with younger kids and it too became the game you play til you drop – literally!
Needless to say, Jonathan and Renee’s youthfulness proved to be such an asset on our mission trip. We love and appreciate them so much and so do the kids in Cebu and Bohol.
Tuesday was a school holiday for Ramadan – and a school of 900 seemed empty at 8:30! Then, one by one they came, peeking in the windows watching us paint. One little boy ventured inside where Gary and I were and stared at us. We smiled, he watched intently. We asked if he’d like to help and he nodded eagerly. And paint he did! He took such care and pride with his work explicitly following directions – scoot the cardboard to catch drips, wipe up your spills. We worked, and soon I looked around and children were everywhere! Then all of us just started giving out brushes and rollers and letting the children help. (So much for any attention to detail!) I said to one child beside me, “Well, now you have a freshly painted building.” His reply was, “No Ma’am, a new building.” And in his eyes, it will be brand new.
So our plan for the day was readjusted. The principal came out and said all the children who helped could be recognized, so with paint specks all over them they posed and smiled for the camera, reflecting joy in a job well done. We were all so proud of them!