Friday, July 29, 2011

On Meeting Florianlyn, Jhon and Julius...

Words will not be adequate to describe what God has allowed our family to experience today but I will try. I am feeling many different and conflicting emotions which I'm sure will take many months {maybe even longer} to reconcile.

First of all, I must say thank you to our many friends and family who have prayed and are continuing to pray us through this journey. You all have been a tremendous blessing to our family as we journey on this missions immersion trip here in the Philippines!

I am not sure when I am able to post this blog post because the Internet connection here on the island of Masbate has been spotty to say the least. It is now Friday evening here and...

It has truly been a great day!

Our family woke up bright and early. While we were having breakfast, we received a text message from the Compassion Case Worker that she, together with our Compassion daughter Florianlyn and her mother, are on their way to our resort! She told us to look out for a blue van. Within a few minutes, we saw them drive into the resort!!! They were an hour early... good thing we were up and about earlier than planned. :-)

Soon after, right before our very eyes, stood our Compassion daughter Florianlyn!

There were no smiles and no words from her at first. As we slowly unpacked the presents we brought for her, a smile appeared on her face as she saw a doll emerge from the backpack. So precious... she held on to that doll for most of the morning! A few precious words followed soon after.

Since both hubby and I were born in the Philippines, we were able to communicate with Florianlyn and her mother in their native language. It was such a blessing to be able to do that inspite of the fact that our Filipino is very rusty! :-)

We had great fellowship with her mother and the Compassion Case Worker as Florianlyn played at the beach with my kids. We learned about how they live, their hopes and dreams, their challenges and obstacles, their appreciation for what Compassion has come to mean for their family. Florianlyn's mother used the word "blessed" to describe the children who are enrolled in a Compassion project. That made my heart happy!

She also told us that twice already she's had to go away to Manila (the capital of the Philippines) to work as a house-maid in order to supplement the family income. This means leaving her husband and three small children for long periods of time to earn the equivalent of C$65 per month! That made my heart sad!

She said that she is hoping to be able to re-open her small convenience store {attached to her house} so that she doesn't have to go to Manila to find work ever again. She had to close down her store when they ran out of money after spending a lot of it fixing their house. But before she can re-open the store, she has to make one last employment trip to Manila in order to earn the C$250 investment capital money needed to re-open the store. That made my heart even sadder!

After about an hour, Jhon Sim & Julius, together with their parents and Project Director arrived. They are the first two children assigned to me since I became a Volunteer Advocate for Compassion Canada. God, in His amazing grace, allowed these two boys to be sponsored just the day before we left Canada for this trip. In turn, we were able to arrange to meet them and their families in order to give them the presents that their sponsors sent for them through us. It was such a joy to hear the parents/guardian praise God that He's provided a sponsor for the boys. That made my heart happy!

After some more conversation, we were able to enjoy a simple lunch with everybody... all 16 of us! As my daughter always says, "Mom, you've once again managed to order too much food!" Such was the case today... there was left-over food. As we offered all three Compassion families to take the left-over food home, I was unprepared to hear what Florianlyn's mother said.

She said, "This is grace... for tonight we will have food for dinner!" For once, there was a real purpose for my ordering too much food! I silently thanked God for taking care of little details like that... at the same time, it made my heart sad, very sad, that dinner is not always expected to be there at our sponsor child's home.

After lunch, it was time for the boys, Jhon Sim & Julius, to head home as they had a two-hour commute ahead of them. We said our goodbyes and we headed our separate ways. Them towards home and us towards Dimasalang, where Patnubay Child Development Centre (PH973) and Florianlyn's home are located.

As I stepped into the rental van, I quickly saw that it had seen better days. It struck me how truly poor this area of the Philippines is... this is supposed to be the "best" transportation option available to us! I couldn't believe my eyes... in Canada, this van would not be considered road-worthy!!! :o

We arrived at Patnubay CDC after about half an hour of driving... again, along the only paved road on this island! We met several teachers, another case worker, the church's Pastor and a centre committee member. I was impressed at how well-run the centre is and how enthusiastic the staff are, even though many of them are not paid a salary {they volunteer their time} and many of them are in poverty situations themselves!

Next stop, Florianlyn's house!

What I saw broke my heart... the whole house is no larger than the typical North American master bedroom and five people live in it! There is no running water, its windows are boarded up with cardboard and a portion of the roof is covered over with a plastic tarp. In that small space is where five people eat, sleep, play, live! Their house, by the way, is already considered to be an improvement... after all, they have cinder-block walls!

But in amongst the poverty...
I saw something else.
Hope! I saw hope!

In Florianlyn's mother's eyes, I saw hope. She said, "When she grows up, Florianlyn wants to get a good education so that she can help us, her family, because she has seen how we struggle to get by! This dream is now possible because of the ministry of Compassion."

My heart smiles.
It thanks God!
It dares to hope too.

After a few minutes of visiting, we said our goodbyes. As we drove back to our resort, it started to downpour. It rained inside the rental van too. Didn't I already say that it has seen better days?!? As it rained inside the van, my thoughts quickly turned towards Florianlyn's family... with a plastic tarp over their heads as a roof, it must be raining inside their house too!

Our family has decided that we will be sending a Family Gift to Florianlyn's family through Compassion Canada when we get home. With it, they can fix their roof by installing permanent corrugated metal sheets and Florianlyn's mother can re-open her store! It is the least we can do to help.

Thanks-living, becoming the blessing.
It's the only way!
In response...
To the One who gave us His all.

It has been one truly awesome day... one our family will cherish forever! God is good and He truly *is* in the details! We are forever grateful.

In closing, I would like to thank a few people who have helped make this trip to Masbate a reality for us. They are: Stacey Rooney (Compassion Canada), Minnie Zamora (Compassion Philippines), Conchita Santianez (Visit Host & Case Worker from Patnubay CDC, PH973), Imelda Cabarles (Project Director of Aroroy CDC, PH981), Esther Borromeo (my cousin & very efficient/able travel agent)... thank you all! God's blessings always.

Good night from Masbate on our family's last night here! The rest of the family have now fallen asleep inside the "hut" which we share with the lizards, but rest assured I speak for all of us... we have all been truly changed by what God has allowed us to experience here today. Our prayer is that we will wake up tomorrow more determined, by God's grace, to live each day as a Micah 6:8 family!

An addendum to this story posted on January 10, 2012: 
When Thanksgiving becomes Thanks-living... the Giving Away of Thanks

Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!


  1. What an AMAZING day!! I'm so happy you were able to meet your Compassion daughter as well as J and J. What a wonderful gift! I'm glad you were able to sleep well the night before -- lizards and all. Stay safe!!

    Blessings and prayers!

  2. Tears fill my eyes as I read this. What a special gift from God this day has been for everyone in your family.

    I can't wait to hear more and see pictures. Florianlyn is blessed to have your family as her sponsors.