From the Philippines December 19, 2013, Thursday

Donations: PO Box 613
Manchester, MI 48158

Tom and Karen
2141 Stonebridge Crossing
Stow, Ohio 44224

Yesterday was our Christmas party for the kids that attend Cugley Christian Academy. We have a small school on our property that a few of our Sankey kids attend but it is mostly kids from the area we live in. We have grades Pre-K through Grade 6 and they are cuties as you can see in the photo! We have a great staff of teachers that are very dedicated and love on the kids while teaching them the curriculum and about God’s Word. We are so thankful for this project. We hope to keep it going but we are finding it difficult to get more students. We are a little far off the beaten path and some parents just don’t want to send their kids here because it is too far. Maybe that can be our prayer request for now… that we would know what best to do with our dream of a small school here. Should we push forward? Should we change from the grades we have now to just pre-school? Should we just make it a ministry and not charge any tuition? Lots of ideas but just not sure yet.
The Christmas party was nice. Songs and dances by age groups and even the teachers had a number! Not sure you could talk too many staff members in the US to get up and dance to a number in front of all the kids! They had some games, ate some treats and then exchanged some gifts. Each of the kids had exchanged their names with another so everybody got to take home something. Even the teachers got in on that act!

While the party finished up in the gym Tom and I met with some representatives from DSWD (the child social welfare group overseeing our care of the kids here at Sankey). Two ladies were from the regional office, one was more local, and then our social worker, Benny, was there with us. It is a requirement that a DSWD social worker live here on the property and we have had two over the 13 years here. Benny is fairly new but he really impressed us yesterday with his preparation, his knowledge of the kids and their backgrounds, and his knowledge of the handbook. Yes, it seems officials here, as other places in the world, “love them a handbook!” We went over several pages of things they are suggesting as changes in the handbook and Benny had already taken care of most of the changes. So it was a long morning but necessary in the grand scheme of things.

We served them a nice lunch of fried chicken, rice (of course), a noodle dish called pancit, and chop suey. Delish! Desert was macaroni salad. Maybe you wouldn’t have these same things on your menu but trust me when I say it was really yummy!

After lunch the ladies wanted to interview some of the kids so we had several talk to them. I think they went home satisfied that we are doing the best job we can and they were happy. Always room for improvements but that is a good thing. It was a long day and seemed stressful. I think some of the tension was because the lead lady was very business-like and kept calling the kids “clients”, our compound here “the center” and talked about working on getting the kids back with their families. There is no way that a dad that sells cocaine and ties his daughters to the bed so they won’t run away is getting them back. Or a dad that puts his son in a bag hanging from the ceiling and hits it like a piñata is getting him back! Or the mom and dad that decide they don’t want to live together anymore and go off and find new partners and leave behind their little boy to wander in the marketplace begging for food are getting him back. Guess how I feel about that idea?!

Tom and I actually had a good cry after they left the room to go to lunch. I think we just couldn’t handle the impersonal way our family was being talked about. We have always said these kids are ours and that we have adopted them. But we are more like their guardians which also means that the state could follow through on intervening in the kids’ care. But the good news is they know and we know that all this is just talk from a bureaucratic view point. These children have a great place to live, plenty of food to eat, a good education if they want it, and people who love them and have introduced them to their heavenly Father who will never leave them stranded! Recently a friend with a teen posted on Facebook, “Lo, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of the teen years, I will fear no evil for You are with me.” Yes, we get it now!

To end on one other interesting note… We went and bought Bebs (Toto’s wife) a new washing machine. We found a great one and one of the selling points is that it is rat proof! Did your washing machine come with a guarantee like that one?

Love and blessings,
Karen and Tom
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