Today, Wednesday, July 31st, marks THREE WEEKS since we turned the key on our new home and started living in The Philippines. We allowed ourselves two or three days for jet lag and then began to get to work securing the licensing that will allow us to freely work with any child through The Bartimaeus Project.
We are very close to having that license! We have children lined up and waiting to be evaluated and loved on. How eager we are to get started!
In the meantime, we are spending our days getting to know this place we call home. We have driven to the far corners of Luzon and been lost more than once.
We have taken buses, jeepneys and trikes as we get to know our close-by places.
And every place we go, every day, we are confronted with the poverty that earned this beautiful country the status "third world".
I am always uncertain as to how much to post and what pictures would be appropriate for this blog. This is a country and a people of great dignity. But I have seen horrible things and I want to share them with you because it is vital to your understanding of the answer to the question "why can't you stay and help the poor in the United States?".
Yes, we DO have poor people in America. Maybe even a few who actually starve due to lack of access to food or clean drinking water.
But not like this.
The streets in my town are lined with squatters. The squatters are virtually homeless people who have make houses out of tarp, plywood, metal and garbage. You can see them lining the Pasig River in the picture below if you enlarge it.
The squatter villages are full of children. I have seen naked children playing within a foot of the busy street.
I have had beautiful children see my white face and hold out a hand to beg for a few pesos.
I have seen mothers carrying children who look very frail and sick. Walking down the street with hollow eyes, no hope to be seen.
And I don't have to go anywhere special to see this scene. On the way to the grocery store, they are there.
Outside the restaurants where my family dines, they wait to ask for help
And I say to myself "oh, we are here to help visually-impaired orphans. We aren't here for THIS kind of ministry."
But my heart is always prodded by that still small voice saying "whatever you have done for the least of these, you have done for ME."
And I say I would do ANYTHING for HIM. And here "HE" is. In the form of a dirty child holding out his hand.
In the face of a mother who's baby clearly has pink eye left untreated. Looking just like a bone-thin old man coughing his lungs out on a crowded jeep, making me recoil just a bit as I think about tuberculosis.
Lord, teach us to serve and love and be your hands and feet. Let us not confine ourselves to only doing what feels comfortable but let us love with reckless abandon. For the time is short. Let us not count the cost.
TEACH US TO LOVE.