Saturday, November 1, 2014

David In The Philippines: October = Trips, Big Decisions, Books, Compassion Family, Fun Runs and Adoptions!

October was a huge month at Ruel Foundation, which included two international adoptions and several operations.

The month actually started with my birthday - I turned 33 on October 1st. I chose to spend my "birthday week" this year visiting three of the Filipino kids I formerly sponsored with Compassion. They all have new sponsors now, so it was great to be able to visit on their behalf and God did some amazing stuff. So the highlight reel this month includes a few Compassion stories, as well as Ruel stories.

The book keeps plodding along. It has been on the verge of being ready for a while but I have sent it back a couple of times due to being a 'grammar nazi' and wanting to get it exactly right. It has cost me a bit more money and time, but I know the final product will be worth waiting for. The latest I have been told is "close of business Monday" (two days from now).

If you haven't already, please check out the Go Into All the World Facebook page or the book's page on the Ark House Press website here.

If you are a blogger or know someone with a blog, I would like to offer you a copy of the PDF (when I receive it), in return for a review or a simple blog post advertising the book. The publishing package I received did not include promotion, so I'm pretty much on my own in that regard. It doesn't matter what size your audience is and you don't have to be a "Compassion blogger" specifically. I just need help getting it out there. If this interests you, please let me know.

In other news, I will be going back to Australia at Christmas and won't be returning to Ruel Foundation in 2015. I wasn't planning on revealing it this early, but it was announced on the Facebook page by someone at the NZ office, so I just went with it.

I will go into more detail in a later blog post, but the main reason for my return is that I haven't been able to fully let go of Compassion sponsorship and advocacy. It still has my heart in a big way, and I believe it is still God's purpose for me.

I have actually got an early start on rebuilding my Compassion family and through a variety of circumstances I have been reconnected with six of my previously sponsored kids. I am still a volunteer at Ruel and potentially won't be earning an income until February but God has provided for me to still be able to commence sponsoring.

This is my current Compassion family:
Top row - Sehila (Bolivia); Antonio (Nicaragua); Josefa (Guatemala)
Bottom - Ana Alice (Brazil); Danna (Mexico); Larissa (Brazil)

Without further ado, here are the highlights from the month of October:

And thus endeth another incredible birthday, the fourth one in the last six years I have spent visiting my Compassion kids. Today I visited precious 14-year-old Princess Joy and her family. She has six siblings, aged 5 to 25, and God's giant handprints of blessing and provision are all over this family, despite their humble circumstances. In a community with very few opportunities, they have a relative who owns the gas station and the farm where the parents and older brothers... both live and work! We ate spaghetti (her favourite), ice cream, went to the beach and bought groceries in a mall they had only ever window-shopped at. I was also able to buy Princess her very first cellphone (may have been a mistake?) Devoting my life to giving to others is incredibly fulfilling, and for me there is no price tag you can put on it. At the end of my life I may not have much to my name materially, but through the sacrifices I have made I know I have helped create memories and experiences for many people and planted the seed of God’s love in many hearts. (October 1)

As a symbol of how valuable she is to me and especially to God, I made the decision to give Princess Joy the teddy bear I've had since I was born, creatively named "Yellow Ted." It was not an easy decision and I almost had second thoughts, but it was an act of joyful sacrifice and with her three younger siblings I know Yellow Ted has found a good home. (October 2)

I'm sitting in my hotel room in Manila reflecting on an incredible week that only God could have put together. In the Good Word, it says "People who are generous will prosper. Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed." (Proverbs 11:25). This week I sacrificed a lot of "first-world" type things to go and visit three of my former Compassion kids in the Philippines. In return, I was the recipient of such lavish and extraordinary hospitality and generosity. People looking after me, taking me places and just taking time to be with me. Overall the verdict is the same: Compassion is a God-inspired ministry, transforming the lives of children, families and communities, and I strongly recommend people in the developed world get involved Thanks to everyone I came in contact with this past week, you made it a time I will never forget. (October 2)

I'm finally back at Ruel after an amazing nine days. Princess Joy is part of a family of 13 (including her brother's wives and kids). They live in a very basic shelter, which was knocked down in the typhoon, and make money by getting the stuff out of coconuts, called copra, and selling it. So I am really drinking a snack of sacrifice - it's their livelihood! That is hard to get my head around, but I accepted the gift gratefully, and it was delish! (October 3)

Took the kids to soccer in the tricycle this morning. It felt a little bit weird being in the drivers seat again after nine days of being a passenger in planes, ferries, buses, jeepneys, trucks, tricycles, motorbikes, taxis and vans! (October 4)

This has become one of my favourite photos, simply for the joy that is displayed, and my heart bursts every time I think about it You've probably never thought of supermarket shopping as an exciting adventure, but it certainly was on this day, their first time ever. Being the hands and feet of Jesus, providing for those who need it, is an amazing privilege. (October 5)

Happy first birthday to this little Ruel munchkin! Baby J has been with us since May and will be having his cleft lip/palate operation very soon thanks to the fundraising of one of our short term volunteers. His smile is the best! (October 7)

Earlier this year during my first earthquake in the Phils I was on my computer and didn't even notice it. Had the second one just then and woah! It was only about four seconds and fairly gentle, but it didn't go unnoticed, that's for sure. Heart is pounding. (October 7)

I never cease to be amazed at the generosity of the poor. This gift was given to me by John Dave's family. It is a glass cube and inside is a model of a big tree and a wooden house. It proved a slight headache carrying it on buses and planes, but it was given with such love and sacrifice. The good thing is generosity works both ways. The back wall of the family's house was knocked down by a typhoon and it's where all four kids sleep. As John Dave's sponsors, my parents are investigating how they can help. *Insert huge smile here* (October 8)

Hanging out with Ruel's newest resident, 3 month-old Baby Girl C. So tiny! (October 9)

As a ridiculously un-artistic person, I really appreciate the effort that goes into things like this. Humbling (October 10)

While I was in Davao, I was blessed to catch up with these two new friends, Daniel and Marlene McColloch Bray. They are involved with a ministry called 'Hope Created' and Dan works at a local school. We connected through Marlene's blog. She wrote a piece called "20 Things No One Told You About Moving Overseas" (thanks for sharing Erika) and the timing of it was incredible, as I had just started feeling the effects of culture shock back in August. It was great to spend a few hours with them, learn about what they're doing and talk to fellow missionaries who can relate to my situation (October 11)

So, the Masipit Rooster Choir must be going for some sort of World Record for the longest continual synchronized crowing. 12.30am to 5.30am is a pretty good effort. I always thought sleep was overrated anyway. On the plus side, I'll take roosters crowing over dogs barking any day! (October 12)

Compassion just sent me this photo from my visit with John Dave in Canlaon City. He had been subdued with a persistent toothache early on and I was afraid it would affect our day or cut it short. While visiting their house I prayed for healing in the name of Jesus, who I know to be real. I watched him carefully for the rest of the day, and there were no signs of any problems. You might call it magic, superstition, BS or any other number of things, but I know what I believe and I know what happened on this day was amazing (and nothing to do with me). God is a healer. (October 13)

I received a "thank you" letter from Princess Joy after my visit two weeks ago. One thing stood out. Her favourite part of the whole day (even better than getting her very own cellphone!) was going to the beach. We were there for maybe 10 minutes, standing in the shallows and just talking, but it was the most memorable part of the day for her. It's an important reminder to me that children find such simple moments so special and valuable, and to be able to provide her with that experience was priceless (October 13)

John Dave's surname is Fajardo. When I visited, he asked me what my last name was, then promptly declared his new name to be "John Dave Fa-Chalmers." Funny kid (October 14)

We recently had the fifth international adoption at Ruel Foundation this year. They are always amazing to witness and be part of. Little Mr M will be living in Ireland with his new mummy, daddy and older sister (October 15)

Today at Ruel Foundation we celebrate LIFE! Baby Boy M was brought to us back in April at just four days old. We had a team from YWAM here at the time, and they were given the privilege of naming him. Have a look at him now as a big six-month-old (October 18)

Thanks for your prayers and concern for Mr L. Unfortunately he died, he was just too sick. At least he was surrounded by love in his final days. Please continue to pray for his family and the Ruel staff. It's a privilege to care for these little ones. (October 19)

The Ruel kids focused and engaged like I've never seen them! The poor turtle showed us his swimming prowess, but was going nowhere in a hurry (October 24)

We have a HUGE week coming up at Ruel. Sunday is our 5K Fun Run to celebrate our Foundation Day. On Monday Little Mr I and Baby J (left) are in Manila for their operations and later in the week Little Mr A meets his Forever Family who are coming from Finland! Phew! (October 24)

Well, the first ever Ruel Foundation 5K Fun Run is complete, and it was a successful morning. I was given the job of photographer, and snapped away happily with my trusty Samsung Galaxy III. This is me with the crew from United Evangelical Church, who unfortunately turned up 10 minutes after the other runners had taken off. Better late than never! UEC has been a real blessing to the kids of Ruel Foundation (October 26)

Today I took six adults in my tricycle and at the end of the journey I found I had a flat tyre. Fortunately "vulcanisers" are very common (sometimes just a guy by the side of the road with a pump and some tools) so I was back on the road in 5 minutes. The cost? 20 pesos (50 cents). Swish! (October 26)

In school this morning we were talking about believing in God. One of the boys declared "Yep, I believe in God. I believe in God and Kuya David." I'll take that (October 28)

This is me with my little shadow, Miss M. Apparently four hours in the morning with me is not enough and she hunts me down several times in the arvo as well. Ah, to be wanted...(October 30)

*I go upstairs after trimming my beard*
Ruel kid: "You've had a haircut!"
Right you are, kiddo
(October 31)

The month ended with another international adoption. Little Mr A met his new mummy, daddy, grandmother and brother and they travelled to Finland to begin their new life together.

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