Mission awareness trip
Jan. 29 – Feb. 9, 2009
A warm welcome
Sponsored children in the Philippines welcome us with a smile and a song. Their choir of 20 sponsored children charmed everyone.
With great admiration I note that our dear friend and longtime sponsor Jerry Menard has arrived in good health and great spirit. He currently has two children sponsored in the Philippines. I believe this mission awareness trip marks Jerryís seventh trip this year to visit sponsored children.
During lunch the owners of the Good Shepherd Center in Antipolo, where our group is staying, told me that after meeting the sponsors and learning about CFCA, they, too, want to become sponsors.
Two talented sponsored girls with severe physical limitations won our hearts with an emotional rendition of ìYou Light Up My Life.î Four personal testimonies added meaning and substance to the afternoon.
Visit to former sponsored child, elderly in dump
In Quezon, we split into small groups to visit families and livelihood projects. My group visited the home of Maria Elena, a former sponsored child, recently married and now working as a business analyst and auditor at a major bank. Riding jeepneys and tricycles takes Maria Elena the better part of two hours to get to work and costs about $2. But the work is steady, and Maria Elena is grateful to be able to help her mother.
We were able to visit several aging friends in the dump area of Payatas. They seem to overcome difficult living conditions with hope and determination.
Today after lunch we traveled about one hour into the countryside near Antipolo to encourage an organic and sustainable food/farming program for 21 families. We dedicated a new water pump and hand tractor, purchased with a loan from CFCA. The hand tractor motor also provides power for the new irrigation pump. The tractor and irrigation system permits the CFCA families to produce two rice crops per year – sometimes three.
Mothers plant rice rapidly
We were invited to plant rice. I discovered that any mother can plant rice about 20 times faster than any of us. Special planting songs keep everyone moving right along.
We dedicated and handed over four young carabao (water buffalo). These gentle animals are treasured and cared for as a member of the family and given names. They serve a family in many ways Ö power in plowing, milk, breeding. The receiving family agrees to share the first calf with another family.
The tree planting ceremony was very well organized. My tree is called Rambutan, a fruit tree. Every tree had a local child sponsor and an aging sponsor, who have agreed to watch over it. Bamboo fences protect each seedling from goats and other animals.
Dumagats thankful for land help
It seemed like the entire 281 sponsored Dumagat families had gathered in this pretty place for this special day. They expressed deep gratitude to CFCA for the efforts to obtain the official title to their ancestral lands.
On our last evening, the Zamboanga project organized a magical evening. With music and dance, the Zamboanga team shared video greetings to the mission awareness trip group from each of their subprojects. For my wife, Cristina, and me, it was very special to share this evening with our own sponsored 10-year-old Shaima, her father, Abbas, and two older sisters, Salieha and Salwa, who are here in Manila looking for work.
Paul (Paul Pearce, CFCA director of international programs) showed everyone the new film trailer for the CFCA documentary on Zamboanga. The people here are honored and excited about the documentary.
The other group, accompanied by Paul, visited Legazpi, Naga City, Pantao, Bicol area, as well as the Bataan area.
Thank you for traveling with us. Cristina and I will fly directly to Guatemala to meet up with the mission awareness trip in session.
Godís blessings to all.