Wednesday, August 27, 2014

David in the Philippines - Highlights from Month #7 (August)

Welcome to August highlights from the Philippines! Unlike last month, where I tried to do it all nice and sequential, these pics are in no particular order. Enjoy!
This is what happens when an 11-year-old gets hold of your camera! 
The complexity of caring for neglected and abandoned kids. This is my growing collection of "love letters" from, ironically, the child I am struggling the most with. She turns against me in a second, and yet stays near me. I can't imagine the torment of loving someone deeply, and yet the only way you can express it is through anger toward them and negative attention seeking. As challenging as she is, my heart breaks for her.
I took Little Mr C and Little Mr I out in the tricycle for something cold and ice-creamy. As you can see, they were overwhelmed with excitement

I was slugging it out at my new gym home when I first heard and then saw a goat walk past on the main road. Reminded me of this Homer moment "Hey you goats! Get outta here!"

Hello Ruel supporters and friends around the world, we have an exciting event coming up. October 26th is our Foundation Day, and to celebrate we are having the first ever "Ruel Foundation 5K Fun Run." This event will raise money to provide blankets for the Mangyan Indigenous people and also to help build a new Meeting House at Ruel Foundation for visitors, parents of our children who wish to visit them, the children and staff

At the start of August, these three special kids met their new parents and started their new life together in Spain! So exciting, yet so hard to say goodbye. On this day I took them on a special afternoon with lunch at MacDo and then they chose a toy from the mall. That way they'll think of me whenever they play with it

I know we're not supposed to have favourites, but....look at this one!!

I must say that since I've been in the Philippines I've developed a slower, laid-back "saunter", mainly to deal with the weather, but when I was in Australia this was definitely true of me, complete with eyes

When I first came to the Philippines I used to walk everywhere, but now that I have the tricycle the walks have stopped completely. It's partly because it's just so much fun, but also so I can get away from the staring quicker. I still haven't got used to it, and many of the starers have a similar expression to mine in this lovely photo. Just a bit unnerving.

...and that was one of the hardest mornings I've ever experienced. God has given me the privilege of investing heavily in these three precious lives over the last six months, and today we said goodbye. Miss P, Miss A and Mr F are off to begin their new life with their adoptive parents in Spain. It's been an amazing couple of days watching them connect with their new mummy and daddy, and I know God has brought them together. Miss you and love you, munchkins. (August 7)


I play a game with some of the little ones where I swing them upside down a couple of times then lift them in the air. Good fun for them and good weight training for my arms. Today Little Mr A and I gently bumped heads, but instead of crying like I was expecting him to, he rubbed my head and checked if I was okay. That's the kind of kid we're raising at the Ruel Foundation

Gee whiz, we get a bit of rain and all of a sudden I look like some sort of tricycle hoon! Wonky photo brought to you by 10 year old Miss R

One month until I get to see these munchkins again, and I'll be celebrating my birthday with Princess Joy and her family. For me there's no better way to spend a birthday than visiting my Compassion kids.
So apparently I wanted to make even more of a spectacle of myself than I already am, just by being white. I headed to the mall on my tricycle to get some beverages for Friday night footy on the Australia Network. My favourite route takes me on ridiculously narrow streets past the local high school. Today I was riding past JUST as everyone was coming out, as far to the middle of the road as I could be and I clipped a motorbike. He was parked and we got a bit tangled up. I then stood through an excruciating 2 minutes as a bunch of other tricycle drivers helped to untangle us, and I averted all eye contact from the amused hordes going past. His bike was fine in the end and as he went past, the smug bugger on a little two-wheeler signalled angrily to his eyes as if to say "watch where you're going." I wasn't going to take that, so I shot something back and we went our separate ways. I'm certainly the talk of the town now. (August 1)
A gem of encouragement that came at just the right time. The adoptive mother of the three kids who left on Thursday has only known me for a few days, but she sent me these words: "Thank you very much for all. You are an excellent teacher. The loving care that our children received has left us happy. They are in good hands. We will never be able to thank you enough. The kids and us will pray for you every day and thank God how lucky we have been. Many thanks for your time and trouble. All the best." I'll take that (August 10)

I took the boss to the pier at 5.30 this morning. It was her first ride in my tricycle and she was happy with my driving. There's a win for me (August 11)

Of all the places the poor fella with one leg had to sit in church, he sat in front of the Ruel kids! I tried to keep their staring and inappropriate comments to a minimum (August 17)

Discouragement is a BEAST! I've had a very up-and-down three weeks, in which I've never felt more like a stranger or an alien despite having been here for nearly seven months. I've been feeling quite isolated, despite being around people all the time, Tagalog still sounds like babble and quite frankly my favourite time of the week has been sitting in front of the footy on TV on a Friday and Saturday night. Before I came here I confidently declared this was a "long-term thing", and I seem to have overestimated my ability to cope. Kids are coming and going at a rapid rate and I've been missing Australia life, my involvement with Compassion and the family like crazy. However now I'm in a better place. The weather is magnificent, I'm loving hooning around on the tricycle, taking kids to church, soccer and the mall, increasing people's awareness of Ruel through the FB page and blog. Every day after lunch I head upstairs and I'm met by a bunch of outstretched little arms, awake from their sleep and ready to cuddle and play. And I remember: that's right, I am here for them. Thank God for the privilege of loving these kids. (August 19)

Thanks to friends for my "culture shock" diagnosis. As part of dealing with this I have been overeating (damn you McDonalds!) and over-drinking a bit, so today I went on a gym-hunt. Found one close by for p30 (75 cents) a session. I also grabbed a pair of $2 goggles and went for a swim in a local hotel pool. My feet cramped 13 laps in and I couldn't move for 5 minutes. Bring on the fitness! (August 22)

More from "Life in the Philippines": I never imagined I'd find driving here so FUN! It took me a while to get my poker face going, as I'd gasp and visibly react with every close call and near collision, but now I just pop my sunnies on, chew my gum and go! In Australia we are advised to keep a car-length distance from the car in front, for safety. Only problem is, if you do that over here the other bikes see it as an invitation to cut in. It happens quite a lot but instead of being white hot with rage like I often was in Australia I just shrug my shoulders and go "Meh!" It also seems that if my tricycle is parked it becomes public property. I took the kids to soccer today, went away for a bit and when I came back there were four college kids, a couple sitting on the seat and a couple standing, just chatting away. I'm also thinking of buying sunhats for all the people of Calapan after nearly getting knocked out by several big umbrellas while walking in town. Hats, people!! (August 23)

Quote of the day: 7-year-old looks at my beard in puzzlement and says "What is this? Grass?" (August 24)

The other day I met a frog sitting in between my screen door and the front door, busting to get inside my apartment. I (gently) kicked him out of the way before I went inside. Five minutes later I came back and the frog was nowhere to be seen, but there were three big lumps of excrement left as a present for me. That's one way of getting your message across I guess (August 27)
Hmmm, my voice seems to have completely disappeared! No sore throat or anything else, just no voice!? Sure makes this place a bit quieter (August 27)

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