March 17, 2014
My first thought as I awake is the stuffiness that seems to permeate the room. It’s a comfortable room with a double bed, small desk, 2 end tables and a bathroom, which has a shower. We are grateful to have clean sheets and running water. It is Thursday, February 27th. The time is 6:05 a.m. I must rise and begin my day.
I am unaware that 10 miles from here a single mother, Arcele Z. is also starting her day. Her home is 8×15 feet that she shares with her two daughters, Akisa Abegail who is in Kindergarten and Rafaya Euone who is in 2nd Grade along with their Lola (Filipino for Grandmother). Akisa Abegail and Rafaya Euone are students at Kingdom Message Ministry School. Due to the size of the Kindergarten and 2nd Grade classes, the girls attend the afternoon session, which is 1–4 p.m.
Each morning the ministry team meets at 7 a.m. for breakfast followed by prayer at 8. We seek God’s wisdom and guidance for what and whom we may encounter.
Back at Arcele’s home she scurries to get Akisa and Rafaya up and ready to leave for the school. When Arcele went to bed last night there was no food in her home. Absolutely none! She had no rice to feed the girls in the morning, but she was not discouraged. She had heard that there was going to be a Feeding Program for the school children at 10:00 a.m. The meal will consist of rice, a few vegetables and bits of chicken. Yes, bits of chicken. She doesn’t think of her own hunger but rather her little girls will not grow hungry. At least not today.
The team splits into two today, with one group going to the school and the other group going to a church fellowship. Our team consists of Mark Giegerich, George and myself. Mark’s job is to survey and assess the damage to the school. He meticulously goes room to room with Allan, the school guidance counselor, and Lito, the school custodian. They are most eager for Mark’s expertise in bringing the school back to where we had it prior to the flood damage and even beyond. George is engaged with meetings with Cherry, the Administrator of KMMS, Marissa, the Principal of KMMS, and various other support staff. He is kept quite busy reviewing policies, certifications and bylaws that are required by the Philippines. It is at this time he must check the records of the students, meet with the teachers and assess the goals of our forthcoming school year, which begins in June. My role is to meet and interview mothers and students. I am about to meet Arcele…
She walks into the room. Her dark chocolate hair is pulled back with a pretty pink headband. Her eyes move from the floor to my face so bashfully as she says, “Good morning, ma’am.” I stand and hold out my hand to shake hers and direct her to have a seat.
I ask her to tell me a little bit about herself. She is a single mother. Her children’s father abandoned them. Last year her father died of cancer. His hospital bills and medicine were so costly they had to sell their home to cover the cost. Since that time she has built the little hut I described above. She works part-time selling cell phones. She will go into a factory or company and hand out brochures with the hope of selling them a cell phone. She makes 1000 pesos a month ($22.75).
As we continue talking she begins to express her appreciation for the teachers who she describes as very kind and generous. Arcele goes on to say, “Especially Cherry, the school’s Administrator, she is the one I can share my problems with. I am very thankful to the Lord that my children study here and know more about God because of this school.”
The gratitude she expresses for the school and the provision it supplies for her girls humbles me. She shares she has a Praise Report that while at the school this afternoon, she received a text from her boss saying he will give her a ‘cash advance’ on her pay (2 days early). “Now I have money for rice for my mother and me to eat tonight. I pray and thank God that He provides for all my needs.”
I ask Arcele is there anything we can do for her. Again I am humbled by her request. She wants to work hard and bids me to pray with her to find a stable job that will provide for her girls and her mother.
Rafaya tells me she likes Math and loves to read stories about God. Like so many little girls her favorite color is pink. She is a very sweet little girl who tells me she loves her Lola (grandmother) who is 77 years old.
Back in my room that night reflecting upon my day, I can’t help thinking that at the same time I was eating my lunch within 20 yards was a Mother and a Lola sitting thanking God for providing for their little girls, yet they didn’t know if they would eat that day.
Even 2 weeks later as I write this report the impact of that day is as fresh as the moment I experienced it. Words penned seem inadequate to the reality of the experience, yet I come away knowing I am called to be resolute in this endeavor.
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