our work

Friday, February 12, 2016

Easy Come, Easy Go (And Other Misconceptions)

There has been much "giving" and some painful "taking away" these last few weeks at our shelter for street children, Mercy House.  I am both sad and happy to share the events with you in hopes that your heart for the fatherless will be stirred to prayer and action.

Because we never want to work alone.
And we would not make it here on our own.

If you read my previous blog post, you know that we admitted two boys in mid January. Those boys were right from the street and the older one was already deeply involved in using drugs and collecting revenue from the younger street children by force.
Three of our MH boys. The two new ones are the younger child on the far right and the one in red next to him. 

They stayed for almost two full weeks. They went to school. They attended church and devotions. They rarely presented behavior problems and they gave us hugs and willingly did their chores.
It appeared everything was going well. But the older child asked often to use the computer. He has facebook and used to spend his days on the computer at the local internet store after he begged for (or extorted) enough money to buy several hours.  He was clearly unhappy that we do not let the children at Mercy House be online. We just can't. He asked often to visit his family, although he did not want to stay there. He asked several times if we could provide the siblings some food. We did.
Then, all of a sudden, on a Monday, 12 days after admission, one of my older Mercy House boys brought the two new boys to me. He said "they want to go back to the street."
I thought maybe they were kidding.   They were not.
Mercy House is not a jail and given that the older boy, Mark, had run away from his past shelter more than ten times, I knew he was going to go if he wanted to.  I told them that I wished they would stay but I understood if they couldn't.
And they left, taking nothing but the clothes they were wearing and the flip flops on their feet.
We waited to see if they were coming back after a little walk.
They did not.
So we set out to find them in the streets where we always saw them and, lo and behold, there they were. They came to us with no attempt to run or hide. They knew we loved them and meant no harm.
Mark, the older boy,  was passing out envelopes to the younger street kids called "sobre".  The envelopes have a message written on them asking for money for food. The younger street children are expected to return those envelopes to Mark at the end of the day and he will give them a little bit of money and keep the rest for himself to buy his solvent and computer time.
the envelopes "sobre" that we took from one of our new admissions

The younger child was eager to come back to Mercy House with us. He was dirty, hungry and still wearing the clothes he had on the day before when he left. His flip flops were gone and he was walking between my social worker and I as we took him to McDonald's without even looking back at the group of boys, Mark included, who were calling his name.
always a second chance

While we fed him, he confided in us that he did not want to run away but Mark convinced him they would find his older brother, who he loves and is committed to. This young child wanted his family ties and agreed to leave with Mark. They did find his older brother and after a small meal, this young boy led us to his brother and we spent some good time getting to know them both and their stories.
big brother, Issac, coming from behind a building where the street children congregate

They expressed willingness to come into shelter with us and, since we had already investigated family ties when little brother came to us two weeks prior, we knew there was no capable family willing to care for these boys. There was plenty of family to be found. Just nobody willing. Some had tried and labeled these boys "too difficult" to keep at home, "disobedient" or "pasaway (naughty)".
So they came to us.
But not alone.
They introduced us to two of their friends, another set of brothers. These boys are 7 and 10 and have been on the street for about three years. They also asked for help. We recognized them from the government shelter.
brother one, age 10

brother 2, age 7

These boys were pleading with us to "adopt them".  They shared with us that their father is in jail and their mother left them. They were left in the care of a sick grandmother who could not feed them, so they went into the streets to beg in order to eat.  They met other street children who showed them the ropes and they migrated to Dasmarinas, a place where there is a large community of true street kids - not the ones who go home at night. The ones who have no place to call home.
We have to use great wisdom and discernment in admitting children, rescuing, right from the street.
There is risk in taking children in who have loving parents but just want to sniff and play and be "free".  So immediately upon admission, we inform all the authorities at the local Barangays where these children originated that we have the kids and how any searching family can find us.
We then go to the Barangays within a week of admission to search for ourselves.
Yesterday, we had a very tearful reunion with the ailing grandmother who wanted so much to care for these two precious boys but simply could not.
she was so relieved to see these boys healthy and cared for

my amazing social worker having prayer with the family

And now, we have unearthed a host of new needs and a deeper call to serve. This grandmother has tremors and appears to be extremely arthritic. She told us the older of these two children was her caregiver when he was still in the home. He took her to the restroom. He helped her eat.
There are others doing those tasks now but just seeing our new resident painted in that caregiving light deepened our love for him on the spot.
And that is where we now stand.
One boy gone. Four new boys who need us.
My own personal and somewhat selfish obsession with "the one who got away" . . .
Mark, white shirt, in school where he should still be 
I know in my heart and have always known "you can't save them all". But I so desperately wanted Mark to stay at Mercy House.  He is such a smart boy- academically. He is still a CHILD in so many ways. And maybe we will get our chance. I would take him back.
 Maybe we won't get another chance with him. My prayer is that seeds were planted during his time here that will make him grow to hate street life and long for a relationship with his Heavenly Father.  Maybe I won't even live to see this child become someone different.
Maybe he won't.
But we will continue to pray and reach out anytime we see him.
Upon his admission to Mercy House, my social worker counseled with him like she does every child. They fill out a questionnaire together.  One of the question is "who is at least one person in your life who has helped you?".
Mark's answer:  "nobody".
He can no longer say that in truth.  For that, we are grateful.

Please pray for our four new boys. No longer street children. Now learning to live as sons in a family.  Pray that they came to us in time. Pray that they lose their taste for all things "street" and, as always and most importantly, they see God's hand in their lives and are drawn to Jesus for life.

He gives. He takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.


  1. Wow. What a powerful story. It so good to hear those children who turn from the streets but my only fear is that, have you not outgrown you house at this point? I hope your new building is coming soon! ❤️

    1. We have most definitely outgrown our house. But God is already at work on that "problem", too! I can't wait to share those details soon. I am continually blown away by His provision for the fatherless. He is the realest of real. Anyone who doesn't believe He is here and at work has his eyes closed!!! Love, you, Morgan!