In January 2016 I returned to Ruel for three weeks and while I was there I was able to visit Aljane and her family. It was a special day and I knew I would have to come back again.
During 2016 I began a relationship with a beautiful woman named Sharon. Sharon loves God, kids and footy (Australian football) just as much as I do, and I promised her that if I got full time work before the end of the year I would take her to visit Ruel over the January holiday period. God provided and we were able to go. I was also excited about Sharon joining me to visit Aljane and seeing Compassion's work up close.
When we arrived at the Project, the kids were participating in their "Awana" program, which is an international children's and youth ministry run in 104 countries around the world. The church has partnered with Awana so that a greater number of kids are able to join in, rather than just the Compassion-registered kids.
I met Aljane's four siblings and introduced Sharon. I chatted to the kids and we talked about what they remembered about my visit the year before. I showed them some photos, then UNO and dominoes were popular.
After the home visit I took the family to a local shopping mall. The previous year we had gone to Jollibee for lunch, but this time Aljane chose "Inasal."
One of my favourite Filipino foods is a dessert called "Halo-halo."
After lunch I took the family grocery shopping at a supermarket. I have never looked at grocery shopping the same way since taking families out in the developing world. It is an exciting adventure for them, and an opportunity for me to help them in a tangible way.
The final stop was ice cream!
After going to the supermarket I took the family upstairs to a department store and enabled each of the kids to choose a gift for themselves. Aljane's older sister formed an immediate connection with Sharon. She chose a teddy bear and when asked what it's name was, called it 'Sharon.'
With the Project Director TinTin (above) and with some of the kids and leaders of PH268 (below).
Having travelled with Compassion extensively over the last few years, I didn't necessarily see or experience anything new. However, having Sharon there to experience Compassion in action up close for the first time made the day extra special.
Aljane's family of seven has their challenges, but the love they have for each other is tangible and I feel privileged to be part of their lives through Compassion sponsorship.