Thursday, July 31, 2014

David in the Philippines - Highlights from Month #6 (July)

These photos and often humorous snapshots are taken from my Facebook page.

Not sure what was so funny. Sometimes you don't need a reason to have a good chuckle I guess. (July 7)

* Yesterday I received a video of one of my nephews. It was exquisitely cute, and involved him wearing a purple wizard hat, getting sidetracked from a conversation with mummy and doing a little dance. The Ruel kids were in hysterics when I showed them. When I mentioned that seeing the video made me miss him (and the rest of the family), one of the kids said simply "Well, why don't you go home?" Fair question, and it got me thinking. It just makes sense: if you miss someone, you go and be with them. I explained that I believed God wanted me here at Ruel, to be with them and care for them instead. It sure isn't easy being away from family, but I know I'm doing what I'm created to do (July 7)

* Seven more Ruel blogs done in the last couple of days, thanks largely to the amazing camera work of volunteer Melissa Hamm. This one was probably my favourite to put together. WARNING: It may result in extreme "cluckiness" and the sudden urge to adopt a child. Enjoy! (July 7)

This tricycle is quickly proving to be more trouble than it's worth! As well as having a dead battery and now being out of gas, today a couple of the kids decided to show me what they think of me by dismantling a tail light, and then snapping and smashing my side mirror. Too bad you can't hold 4 year olds accountable for damage they cause. More money for the Philippine automotive industry here in Calapan.  (July 8)

* For those of you unaware, I have written a book about my experiences with Compassion International, and visiting 31 of my sponsored kids in 12 countries over the last few years. The book is full of stories about the challenges and realities of people living in poverty, as well as incredible transformation and change, brought about by the work that Compassion does in the lives of children, families and communities. With the publishing of the book (with Ark House Press) in full swing this week, I thought I'd put this little "visual preview" out there for you to enjoy and hopefully share.
The publishing package I purchased included publishing and distribution only, not promotion, so I'm really on my own a bit in that regard. Can I ask, particularly if you're a Compassion advocate or supporter, can you help me get it out there? I'm not motivated by profits or personal publicity (I've invested my own money into it). I'm just a little guy from Australia but I want people to know about the work that God is doing through Compassion and maybe motivate them to change a child's life through sponsorship. Thanks in advance (July 9)

 I am beyond excited! This year will be my fourth birthday in six years I have celebrated overseas, and I was thinking about how to spend it. Then I thought, "Since I live in the Philippines, why not visit my three Filipino Compassion kids, John Dave, Cashofia and Princess Joy?" They all have new sponsors now (Dani Moore, Clarisse and Paul McGregor and my parents), so it will be brilliant to visit them on their behalf. This journey will take me to Davao, Bacolod and Borongan City. Even more amazing is that my trip will be funded by my incredibly generous parents! They've seen the sacrifices I've made visiting 31 kids in 12 countries out of my own pocket, and now they want to help me out. Can't wait for September (July 11) 

* I got a haircut today, my usual Number 2 buzz cut. My hairdresser was a man with tattoos, bright pink lipstick and lovely golden hoop earrings. When he'd finished he said in his deep Filipino accent "You look handsome." I blushed and giggled like a schoolgirl, but in hindsight he might have been saying it to himself as he looked in the mirror. Oh well (July 12)

* Yippee! Today I rode my tricycle on the main road of Calapan by myself. I was "crappin me dacks" (that means 'very nervous' for you non-Australians) Reached the princely speed of 40 km/h (the speed limit), but it's a heck of a lot faster on a bike. I got flagged down by a couple of young guys wanting a ride (kept on going), had the dreaded scenario of trucks coming at me on my side of the road and even brought 7 kids and an Ate back from church. Huge thanks to Mylou Magpili for getting my bike back in action so quickly. (July 13)

* HUGE thanks to my Australian friends Wendy and Gary Weatherley. On the weekend they had a joint birthday celebration, and in lieu of gifts their generous friends and family raised a four-figure sum for myself and Ruel Foundation. Much appreciated (July 14)

The Ruel Foundation yard after the Typhoon passed through last night. Trees down, some flooding on the road, power out overnight. To be honest, no worse than one of those blustery nights in Melbourne when you find trampolines and basketball rings in other people's yards. (July 16)

Happy birthday to my wonderful sister Julie. We are living very different lives but I have endless admiration for the way she's bringing up three little guys under 6 and I am thankful for the trust she's shown me in my role as uncle, and being a part of their lives. All the best for the year ahead (July 17)
On Wednesday the majority of the Ruel caregivers and staff attended a seminar on Attachment. It was very interesting, relevant and a good addition to my teaching PD hours. (July 18)
Fantastic Friday:
- A day of beautiful warm sunshine
- Having lunch out with other people (being social!)
- Two successful tricycle rides carrying both adult and child passengers
- Celebrating Mr J's 8th birthday at Maccas
- Footy on the Australia Network tonight
Right now for me, days don't get much better than that (July 18)
* I witnessed a baby eat it's own poo today. Not something I want to repeat. (July 19)

Another fun morning for the schoolkids yesterday. I took them out in my tricycle to soccer training, then we went to a local mall for arcade games, drinks and ice cream. Very special to be able to give them these sorts of experiences, and a pretty good way to spend $10, I figure. I've now been driving on three wheels for exactly one week. When we arrived back at Ruel, one of the kids said straight away "Can we go for another drive?" Ah, the trust of a child (July 20)
* Miss M puts her glasses on the table.
Me: "You need those glasses to see."
Miss M: "No I don't. Watch this."
*Promptly starts writing with the eraser end of the pencil*
What does Kuya David know anyway? (July 21)

Eating out at Mang Inasal. Sarap! (July 22)
Potential front cover of my Compassion book. Wowee! (July 22)
* Many of the kids here have what we would consider to be "slightly violent" ways of showing their affection. One child came up to me yesterday and said proudly, "Kuya David, I have not hit you today." Well done kid, have a medal. (July 23)

* Well, I'll never live this one down. I took four kids into town, and after enduring a frustrating minute unable to start the bike, one of the kids pointed and shouts "You forgot to put the key in!" This led to many chuckles at my expense all the way home. *Napoleon Dynamite voice* "Idiot!" (July 25)

* Quite an adventurous morning. I've become so used to the tricycle in the last couple of weeks, that driving the eight seater van again was...interesting. Dropped three volunteers off at the pier for their journey home to the US then, because I'm still not confident parking the beast, went back to Ruel and got the tricycle for the trip to the bank and immigration office. Renewing my visa wasn't as straight forward as usual - a couple of phone calls and animated talking, then of course I was 80 pesos short. I swear they make these amounts up, it's different every time. While I was waiting, an old fella started clipping his toenails. As you do. Went to the ATM at the bank which only spits out 1000s, went back to immigration, only to be told "we don't have any change." I would have thought if you're going to take random amounts of thousands of pesos off tourists, the least you can do is have change. I gambled with the weather...and lost. So I drove back in the rain for the first time. Ah Philippines life, never a dull moment. (July 28)

* I've been the recipient of two contrasting acts of sharing and helpfulness in the last two days by the Ruel bubs. Today a little one randomly brought in my flip-flops/thongs from outside, plonked them at my feet and waddled away proudly. Yesterday a little guy took off his nappy and followed me around for two minutes trying to give it to me. Not sure about that one... (July 28)

Filipinos will forever be telling of the day they saw an Aussie guy and a Finnish girl accompanied by three little Filipino girls: two 2-year-olds and a mainly-Tagalog-speaking birthday girl. Miss P turned 9 yesterday, and the little bubs don't get to go out much, so I thought it would be nice to give them a couple of hours out and about. First stop was MacDo. Miss P couldn't decide which toy she wanted, and begged me to open the glass display case with all the toys in it. The little ones loved their ice creams, and we only had one spill, which is to be expected. We then stopped by the local mall. Miss P nagged for everything she saw, the little ones grabbed for everything they saw and ended up lying on the ground at the checkout (no tantrums though). Thankfully we had no need to visit the bathroom (though I did pack nappies just in case - I'm learning!) and we made it back to Ruel safe and sound and relatively dry (July 29)

...and then there was one! Today marks the end of an era (if you can call a six-month period an 'era'). For the first time since I've been at Ruel I am the only international volunteer. I've met some amazing people from countries including ...US, Canada, New Zealand, Finland, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Poland. Thank you all for coming and helping make Ruel a fantastic place to be. If you're wondering about the photo, it's been quite rainy lately, so I have been in the habit of letting the pre-schoolers have a play in the schoolroom for an hour before dinner. This is the result of the "kid typhoon" but it's worth it to hear the squeals of delight and joy as they get to go in the "sacred schoolroom." It just means I'm left with the clean up


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