Jan 7 2010

A few bumps, but going well

Paul Pearce, CFCA international programs director, is currently walking with CFCA President Bob Hentzen and the Walk2gether team.

Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2010

Weíre within 4.5 kilometers from the El Salvador border, as of yesterday evening. We will spend today and tomorrow with the community in Jalpatagua, Guatemala. Today was an all-region finalist talent event, and tomorrow a livelihood program showcase.

The walk is going well. A few bumps, but going well. Cristina (Bobís wife) had three toenails removed, and the camper has a new clutch plate (we have lightened the load considerably)… Everyone’s spirits are very high.

We have had some very hot days and lots of climbs. Some of the walk days stretch from 3:30 a.m., when we board the vans, to 7 p.m., when we reach the 40 kilometer mark after dark. The third 10 kilometers of the day is the most difficult ñ ìthe wall,î and sometimes takes twice as long to get through. The enthusiasm is incredible along the road.

In Chiquimulilla we estimate there were 4,000-5,000 CFCA kids, moms, dads and staff on arrival. Yesterday, we had several hundred walkers. The moms, some dads, and children as young as 3, students and elderly are walking significant distances. They seem to understand the difficulty of the walk and its significance.

There are many, many individual stories we’re trying to absorb as we go. One story is that of Stephanie, who is sight impaired, walking 10 kilometers. At one point we were lagging behind the group quite a bit ñ probably 150 yards, so we decided we should run. I was amazed by her. Many stories like this.

We’ll sign off for tonight and get back on tomorrow. Hope everyone survives the storm up there. We’re having high winds.

Take care all. Greetings from many folks along the road. – Paul

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May 7 2009

A duet in the Philippines

Blog and video by Paul Pearce, director of international programs department

On a recent visit to our programs in the Philippines, I was invited to spend the afternoon with a group of sponsored aging persons in the Antipolo project. The program organizes sponsored members into small groups called ìKapitbahayanî (neighbor in the Filipino language).

The groups of 15 to 20 members meet regularly, and this afternoon was one of such Kapitbahayan meetings held in the ruins of a small, uncompleted building.

The meetings are a source of camaraderie, support and planning among the sponsored members. They share with each other how things are going in their home life, study scriptures and coordinate project activities.

During the meeting, I asked if they have recreation or talent development activities. That’s when the smiles really emerged on these beautiful faces. Wenceslao quickly stood and said that he would like to sing out of great gratitude to his sponsor and the CFCA program. CFCA staff member Nell joins him as a duet part way through the popular and historic song.

I was now immersed in Filipino pride, beauty and spirit through song. Many in attendance took turns singing. They had turned this ramshackle, tattered shell of a building into a fine concert hall and given our meeting its wings.

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Feb 20 2009

Visiting the Philippines with Paul

On†the recent mission awareness trip to the Philippines, CFCA President Bob Hentzen and Paul Pearce, CFCA international programs director, divided the sponsors into two groups to travel to different parts of the country.† In this post, Paul tells about his group’s experiences. Read about Bob’s trip.

Mission awareness trip
Philippines, Feb. 2-8, 2009

By bus and by boat
Legazpi staff and sponsored members with their families meet us at the tiny Pili Airport in Naga City. Our group traveled by bus and boat to the hotel. Under the watchful eye of the volcano Isarog, the setting is definitely South Pacific.

The theme Legazpi has chosen for this yearís trip is ìCFCA: Bridging People Amidst Diversity.î Maria Luz, at the closing of her testimonial and upon meeting her sponsors, said she is ìthe happiest girl in the world.î In tears, sponsor Mariano was moved by the hospitality the sponsors received.†We enjoy a rousing, sand-blown rendition of ìThis Little Light of Mine.î

Later, the Legazpi scholarship youth and staff energize a running-out-of-gas sponsor group. Sponsor April and her sponsored friend, Aprilyn, lift the roof with a duet of ìYou Are My Hero.î Sponsors head for the pillow after a long and beautiful day.
April and Aprilyn

Legazpi angels

Riding two big buses, we headed down the coastal road toward Legazpi to participate in a tree-planting activity at the municipal park in the town of Tiwi. After visiting the Tiwi geothermal plant, we pass miles of pristine rice fields, stopping at the ruins of Cagsawa, a colonial church destroyed by one of the many eruptions of the Mayon volcano, and the volcanic rock and mud flow area from the 2006 eruption that killed numerous persons and affected CFCA families substantially.

Sponsors commented how much they liked the ìangelî concept of the Legazpi project. Sponsors were each assigned a staff member, called an angel, to accompany them from arrival to departure, guide them, answer questions and†wake them in the morning, if needed. Sponsors have felt very well-cared-for in Legazpi.

Continue reading

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