Friday, March 21, 2014

Three Things a Former Secretary of Health Taught Me

The Dr. Alfred Bengzon, the former Secretary of Health now the CEO of Medical City, met to welcome us in the Medical City family. He shared his insights and thoughts in his 5 decades of being a medical professional. In our meeting, I learned three things from him:

1.       “Doctor’s should go beyond medicine” 
2.       “Heroes can come from the government”
3.       “Patients are partners”

I appreciated that Dr. Bengzon opened our meeting with a prayer from Bishop Desmond Tutu. He said it was something that he wants to be done in all other meetings. We were off to a good start.

The first thought that really had a big message for me was when Dr. Bengzon shared how he was able to appreciate being a doctor by going beyond the scope of medicine. He shared his story how a doctor like him ended up being a manager and taking an Master’s in Business Administration in Ateneo. But that “deviation” from the field of medicine allowed him to have a wider perspective and appreciation of medicine.  He was resolute to tell us that doctors must not only know medicine. He asked me who I was and what’s special about me and I told him that I am a doctor and a physician – the wholistic approach to medicine in person. Our talk turned to spirituality and I was impressed by his wide knowledge of the subject. He talked about Mitch Albom and his books and offered some of his insights on the topic of spirituality. He asked about how a loving God would allow unrepentant people to go to hell. He left it for us to theologize on it. He admonished the other doctors to also read Albom’s “Tuesday’s with Morrie” and not just be limited to their Schwartz, Harrison’s or del Mundo’s. He reminded us that doctors will be able to appreciate medicine better if they know other than medicine.

The second thing I learned from the good doctor is that heroes can still come from the government sector. The recent current events and forever have focused on how government officials and their cohorts have been stealing the people’s money. The inefficiency and ineptitude of the government to address the country’s problem has been an acceptable fact for many. But Dr. Bengzon told the story of an underpaid midwife in the mountainous typhoon-zone part of northern Luzon and her dedication to uplifting the health condition of her community. The midwife would travel on foot for several hours climbing mountains and crossing rivers just to be able to deliver vaccines for the children. Not even her surgical operation that required her to rest could stop her from performing her duty. It was no wonder that she died in the line of duty because she drowned when she was caught by a flashflood while crossing the river one stormy season. Some people in the government are still doing their best to improve the health condition of others. There are still heroes in the government. The field of medicine is like that – sacrificing more of ourselves for the health of others. Medicine is service oriented. He reminded us to help the government in serving the people because anybody can be a hero even in their own little way.

The third lesson I learned from Dr. Bengzon is in looking at the patient as partners in health. This concept has been taught to me in my residency training as a medical doctor and was not something new. But the experience and the examples he gave made it real and practical. It was no longer just a concept. He shared how one of his protégé applied the concept that patient are partners through the design of his clinic. The clinic did not have the traditional doctor’s table where the doctor sat on one side and the patient on the other side while the medical consult is ongoing. Rather, the clinic only had a couch and a center table. The doctor and the patient sat in the same couch to emphasize that the doctor-patient relationship was a partnership. The clinic structure allows the patient to look at the doctor at eye level and sit shoulder to shoulder to emphasize that both of them works in partnership and has equal role in the patient’s health. Dr. Bengzon reminded us how doctors love to go ego-tripping and that this culture must come to a stop. He challenged us new doctors that in our practice, we will treat our patients as partners who must also be given the responsibility and control of their own health.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Guest Post from a Typhoon Yolanda Reflection by Monalinda Cadiz

A postscript to faces of living hope

Sprawled in an orange and pink colored mat are a couple of diapers bundled with colorful, bulging eco bags.  Excited hands were untying gray, plastic bows, and female chatter was in the air.
“Wow! There’s also a baby dress set in our pack, I got a blue you like this color for your baby boy?”  “Sure, thanks! Here, I’ll exchange with you this pink one-  suits your baby girl better.”
It was while observing these moments, amidst my frantic implementation of World Vision’s Women and Young Children Space (WAYCS) at the relief response in North Cebu, that I was reminded it was in fact the festive month of December.  Although the scene wasn’t kris-kringle, it appeared that Christmas wasn’t suspended afterall.  Not even in those parts, bulldozed just weeks earlier by typhoon Haiyan.  Surprisingly at that moment, seven mothers who were victims of an historic natural calamity would remind me not only of festivities to look forward to when I get home for the holidays after my deployment.  Marie, Myrna, Rossan,Shirley, Cris, Fe, and Marilou-  these women wore a burst of a refreshing aura in the aftermath of the Haiyan disaster- the human face of living hope.  
Inside that WAYCS tent in the village of Bagay of Daanbantayan town, breastfeeding babies succumbing to sleep were oblivious of their mothers’ excited remarks and frequent giggles.  If not for a breastfeeding poster behind one of the moms who was nursing her baby, the scene wouldn’t immediately appear to be an emergency tent put up to help mothers and their babies recuperate from the terrors of the calamity that had striken.  At that moment, there was hardly a trace that these women and their young ones were in a life-threatening situation just weeks earlier.
“I was still pregnant when Typhoon Yolanda came, which is why I had twice the fear.  The howling wind was so frightening, it’s the first time I heard the wind to be so angry.  The surroundings quickly turned gray during the day,” recalls Fe as she clutches her two-week old infant. 
“I hid under the sink holding my baby tightly.  I was so scared watching our house stripped of the whole roof over our heads, and the glass window smashed.  We were all rain-soaked and trembling of fear and the cold, but I held on to my child,” recalls Rosann. 
She invited us to see the house later on, a two-story structure seemingly skinned to the bone, with the family’s meager possessions inside piled up in mud and rubble.  Rossan picks up a baby shirt covered in mud, saying it’s good there was a replacement inside the infant kit she received from the WAYCS.  Pointing at a bed suspended on a door, she continued, “my baby and I were lying on that bed when the typhoon came.  We had to move the bed to seal the door from the angry wind; my husband went up to hang on to the roof, but the wind was stronger and lifted it,” says Rosanna, pointing to the open sky over head.
“But my baby did not get sick even after being soaked in rain and the displacement.  I believe it was my breastmilk that saved him- my baby Edson has been purely breastfed until six months,” proudly shares Rosann.  The other mothers nod in agreement, as if hearing the talk of the village midwife again, which emphasized on the life-saving potency of continued breastfeeding of babies.
Amidst what they went through, these mothers were among some 300 who would regularly troop to the WAYCS tent put up in Rosann’s village, on invitation by health workers.  They listened to the midwife or the local nurse discuss basic practices to ensure that proper nutrition and care of their young children is continued even in disaster situations.
“Honestly, it’s my first time to hear that it’s alright to breastfeed another baby other than your own.  I’ve always thought it was not good.  Older people in my neighborhood said that if you breastfeed especially a baby girl, you will become malnourished and your milk would dry up.  Your own baby would suffer because you won’t be able to feed it anymore.”
Marilou was happy that she attended the WAYCS when the midwife discussed breastfeeding because she learned that what she believed in was just a myth- now she knows the truth.   “Now I can help breastfeed the baby of my neighbor if its own mother cannot do it herself.  I have to tell my old neighbors about it,” continues Marilou.
It still amazes me to this day how these mothers managed to become attentive to new information, and think of others to whom they could share what they learned, considering their situation that time.  How can someone stripped of the comforts of normalcy, of life-long earned material belongings, perhaps in extreme situations- even loss of loved ones- live at the hard moment and look forward to a happy tommorow where they can’t wait to share what they newly acquired?
I remembered these raw images in the communities where World Vision responded in Cebu at the turn of the new year when I was already in the midst of holiday revelry in the comfort of home and family, when I received messages about hope for a new beginning.  It was not new in fact, but a rehash of that seasonal message theme.  Just like what Marilou experienced from the village WAYCS, it was as if I heard the information the first time in my life. 
A burst of gold in the horizon never failed to light up my way back to the city after a day at  the community.
The message of hope for new beginnings had a cohesive meaning when I heard them at the start of this year as I took stock of times past.  I remember my two-week interaction with community people in the disaster zone, the miniscule task I took which form part of a huge world response to the disaster, of overwhelming gestures of gratitude and generosity from sources in the community that are surprisingly, still coming from typhoon victims. 
I fumbled to recall those Greek words I last re-learned from Darrel Johnson-  kronos, the reality, tick-tack time of the moment,  and kairos,  the spiritual-level time, God’s time, and how they concretely met in the Haiyan response in the community.  I saw both the kronos and kairos times intersect because of the face of hope I saw in mothers and babies as their eyes locked at each other while breastfeeding, giving life to each other.  I could visualize the promise of a new beginning in mothers sharing their stories of survival and plans for the future.  Living hope is also materialized in village health workers working 24/7 to serve their community even when their own families were also victims of disaster.
Take Maribel, a registered nurse volunteer in Tabogon town in Nort Cebu, dedicated facilitator of World Vision’s WAYCS in two barangays.  She has five children, including a six-month old baby.  Maribel is the current family breadwinner because her husband recently underwent a major surgical operation of his liver.  Her house was also damaged by the typhoon and the whole family had to momentarily move to a sibling’s house. 
When Maribel rode back with me to Cebu City where she was scheduled to take an exam with the Department of Health, she confided that her family
did not receive relief goods.  She apparently missed the validation process because she was facilitating a session during the opening of the WAYCS in Somosa village and there was no one in their house.
“It’s alright, I don’t regret leaving my house to facilitate the opening of the WAYCS in the barangay and discussing the importance of breastfeeding to almost  a hundred mothers.  What I ask for from God now is to allow me to pass the RN Heals exam so I can continue to work for my community and support my family,” says Maribel.            
At that instance, she’s my living hope-  that despite her real-time struggles, she’s living up to her role as a nurse to bring the good news, like in reminding a distraught mother that she is naturally endowed with the capacity to nurture her baby.  Just like the seven mothers inside that WAYCS tent I spent some moments with as they exuded happy aura, reminding me there can be happiness at the core of gloom.  They all remind me that my vocation is like theirs, and everyone else’s- to be a living hope, just as Christ Jesus was.###
Sugarcane flowers adorn the hills in North Cebu, the previous typhoon path.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Cheap Ministry

I am having trouble understand why Christians love to think that it is OK that the ministry of God can be cheap or even free.

For example, you work as a missionary doctor for the church and you will earn only Php 20,000 a month ($500) and people will tell you that is OK because it is for God's ministry anyway.

Or a church member will tell you, let us get Church Member A as our accountant for the School because we can ask her to waive her professional fee or lower her PF, after all this can be her ministry.

Many other similar examples exist and all will tell you that ministry can be done with little expenses or for free. Of course that is a great strategy if you do not have the budget for your ministry.

And that is my problem. Too little money is spent in the ministry. It is like ministry can be cheap. Ministry then becomes a cheap ministry.

I look at how we spend for our different ministries as a symbol of the value we give to God's ministry. A cheap ministry is not a valued ministry. If you are willing to pay only Php 20,000 to your missionary doctor then you are not only telling the doctor that his value as a missionary is only that much compared to other doctors also healing the sick. If you want to waive the PF of the accountant you are not only telling the accountant that her value is only that much compared to other CPAs. Of course, the missionary doctor and the CPA will think that they have a lesser value than their counterparts. More than that, you are telling them that the ministry the doctor and the CPA are involved are not valued as much as well. The ministry they do is not as important as others.

Bo Sanchez wrote in his book The Abundance Formula that "money is merely a symbol of value." If he is correct, then how much you pay your missionaries is also how much you value them. How much you are willing to spend and put a budget on your ministry is also how much you value the ministry of God. Of course, there is more value to people than what money can pay them. But if we live our spiritual life in the context of the world, for we do not live in a vacuum, then in the language of monetary value our ministry is a cheap ministry.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Maagang Pagturo ng Christian Perfection

Maagang pagturo ng Christian Perfection ni Neki Soriano, MD. MDiv.

Sermon given during the Joy Kiddy Garden Sunday of Kamuning United Methodist Church last February 23, 2014.
Ngayon ay Joy Kiddy Garden Sunday. Ito ang araw kung saan pinapahalagahan natin ang ministry natin sa edukasyon ng mga bata. Ngayon din ay bahagi pa rin ng Love Month at sa Linggong ito ay ang pagmamahal sa mga taong may karamdaman. Ang ating special focus sa linggong ito ay ang ministry natin ay sa mga people with HIV and AIDS. Itong dalawang ito ay nagtutugma sa ating teksto na patungkol sa pagtawag ng Panginoon sa lahat ng Kristiyano na mahalin ang kapwa at maging perpekto gaya ng ama nating nasa langit na perpekto.
Bago tayo magbulay-bulay, alam ba ninyo kung bakit marami sa mga Metodista ang walang maalalang spiritual birthday? Ako hindi ko maalala ang spiritual birthday ko? Alam nyo bakit? Mamaya, ikukuwento ko.
Ang nais kong pagbulay-bulayan natin ngayong umaga ay ang Christian perfection. “Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.” Ngunit madalas iba ang itinuturo sa atin ng ating society. Ang pop culture natin ay nagsasabing Nobody’s Perfect. At dahil dito, madami sa atin ang hindi na nangangarap ng Christian perfection. OK na sa kanila ang maging makasalanan. OK na rin sa mga Kristiyano na hindi umasam na maging perpekto katulad ng Ama niyang nasa langit. Ok na ang hindi perpekto ang pag-ibig natin sa sarili, sa kapwa, sa kalikasan at sa lahat ng nilalang ng Diyos. That is the problem.
I would like to share with you a report from the World Vision on Spiritual Nurture of Children:
-           The moral values of Filipino children and youth are said to be deteriorating over the past years...
o   Based on the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS)
§  3 out of 10 youths are smokers
§  Most of them are 13 to 15 years old
o   The 2008 Philippine National Health and Demographic Survey (NHDS) reports that:
§  3 out of 10 women ages 15-24 have begun child bearing
§  Among women 25-49 y.o., 3% had their first sexual intercourse by the age of 15.
o   In the United Nationals Population Fund (UNFPA) 2011 report, there was a 70% rise of teenage pregnancy rate in just ten years (1999 to 2009).
o   In the 2011 Family Health Survey conducted by National Statistics Office it shows that 7.4% (320,162) of the women aged 15-19 years old are already mothers with 10,483 mothers started bearing a child at the age of 15 years old.
o   AIDS Registry in the Philippines reported 10,514 people living with HIV/AIDS (DOH, 2013). It has been noted that the root cause of sexually transmitted infection are risky health behaviour, multiple sex partner, same sex relationship, early sex debut, unprotected sex, even indiscriminate drug use, and exploitative relationships. 
We are not condemning people with HIV and AIDS or those with lifestyle diseases. We though acknowledge that deteriorating moral values are contributory to these conditions. The problem with the deteriorating moral values of our society today begins with our inability to nurture our children towards Christian perfection... early in life.
Ano ang dapat ituro? What should we teach our children?
Dapat turuan natin ang ating mga anak na maging ganap dahil an gating Ama sa langit ay ganap. We should teach our Children to live a holy life, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Our readings from Leviticus and from Matthew remind us to be perfect, to be holy. John Wesley, ang founder ng Metodista, ay tinawag at tinuro sa atin ang Christian Perfection.
Pero ano nga ba ang Christian perfection?
Ang turo ni John Wesley sa mga Metodista ay: dapat ang buhay ng tao ay isang paglalakbay patungo sa paggaya kay Hesus at maging katulad niya na ganap o banal. Banal ang puso sa pagmamahal sa kapwa, sa kalikasan, sa lipunan at sa Diyos. Ito ay ang perfect relationship with God sa pamamagitan ng banal na puso na merong banal na pag-ibig. A state of relationship with God wherein our heart is perfected with a perfect love for God.
Ang teksto natin ngayon ay nagpapakita ng 2 halimbawa ng perpektong pagmamahal sa diyos. Two examples about loving God – two occasions where we are instructed to be Perfect as God is Perfect. Una, sa Leviticus tinuturo kung paano natin sisimulan ang paglalakbay sa Christian perfection. Ika niya, dapat daw mahalin natin ang ating kapwa. Sa Israel noong una kung saan sila ay isang agrarian country, itinuturo kung paano nila ipapakita ang pagmamahal nila sa kanilang kapwa. Eto ang ilang halimbawa:
-          Magtira kayo ng mga aanihin ng mga pulubi para sa kanilang pamilya; huwag niyong pupulutin yung nahulog sa ubasan.
o   Alam ba ninyo sa panahon natin ngayon, yung pagkain natin sa restaurant ginagawang pagpag ng mga kapatid nating walang makain? Pero kung ubos yung manok na inorder mo sa McDo, tapos pati buto nginuya mo pa, wala nang matitira sa mga mahihirap na umaasa sa pagpag.
-          Huwag kayong magnanakaw o magdadaya.
o   Kapag sinasabi yung pandaraya at pagnanakaw ay agad kung naaalala yung pork barrel scam. Nagtataka talaga ako, malamang hindi tinuruan noong kindergarten ang mga opisyales na ito na masama ang magnakaw kahit limang piso lang yan.
-          Huwag magnanakaw ng sweldo at ipagpapabukas
o    Magpasweldo naman kayo ng nasa oras. Lagi nating nadirinig yung delayed ang sweldo sa gobyerno, yung mga doctor sa Manila wala pa daw sweldo. Eh yung mga kasambahay niyo?
-          Huwag manlalait ng bingi o maglagay ng katitisuran ng bulag
o   Mga kapatid, huwag niyong pag-tripan yung mga maysakit. Lalo na yung mga may HIV and AIDS. Magbubulungan sa simbahan, “Uy, si babae may HIV yan kasi iba-iba ang kinakasama.” May sakit na nga pinagtsitsismisan at sinisiraan pa.
o   Social stigma and discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS is a social sin! Tignan niyo yung katabi niyo. If he or she has AIDS, tatabihan niyo ba siya?
-          Huwag ninyong kapootan sa inyong puso ang inyong kapatid o kapitbahay, huwag maghiganti
o   Huwag daw tayo magtanim ng galit sa kapwa, tanda ito ng pagmamahal natin sa kanila.
Eto ang ilan sa mga halimbawa ng pagmamahal sa kapwa.
Sa Matthew naman itinuturo kung paano natin ipagpapatuloy ang paglalakbay sa Christian perfection. Mula sa pagmamahal sa kapwa ang paglalakbay natin bilang Kristiyano ay magtuturo sa atin na mahalin din kahit ating mga kaaway. Sa kaharian ng Diyos, hindi lang ang mga malapit sa buhay natin ang mahal natin. Pati ang mga nananakit sa atin, tumutuligsa sa atin at naninira sa atin ay dapat mahalin natin. Nagbigay uli ng halimbawa sa Mathew ngpagmamahal kahit sa ating mga kaaway:
-          Ang pagturn ng other cheek ay hindi para masaktan ka ng lalo kundi para mapahiya ang nanakit sa iyo na gusto kang saktan
o   Ito ay dahil kahit anong gawin niyang paninira at pananakit sa iyo ay hindi ka niya kayang saktan dahil sa pagmamahal mo sa kanya. Ang tunay na pagmamahal sa kapwa ay hindi nawawala kahit na ikaw ay masaktan man. Iba ito sa carino brutal o yung sa violence against women and children.
o   Ito ay parang si Annaliza, yung bidang babae sa teleserye sa hapon. Kahit ilang beses siyang saktan at itakwil ng kanyang kapatid na si Arlene ay mahal pa rin ni Annaliza si Arlene.
-          Ang pagbigay mo sa iyong damit kapag hinubaran ka ay tanda ulit nga tunay na pagmamahal dahil hindi ka mapapahiya bagkus sila ang mahihiya sa ginawa nila sa iyo.
o   Ganito ang kultura noong unang panahon. Ang pagmamahal mo sa kapwa ay tunay at ganap na kahit laitin ka ay ang nanlalait ang mapapahiya sa kanyang ginagawa dahil buo pa rin ang pag-ibig mo sa kapwa mo.
-          Na kahit utusan ka na maglakad ng isang milya ay sasama ka pa ng isang higit pa dahil hindi ang utos nila ang sinusundo mo bagkus ang pag-ibig mo sa kapwa ang siyang nagtulak sa iyo na lumakad pa.
o   Tinanong ko minsan ang isang missionary kung bakit siya tumutulong ipaalam ang HIV and AIDSsa mga tao sa simbahan kahit na ang mga simbahan mismo ang nagtakwil at nandiri sa kanya. Ika niya, hindi dahil sa sweldo kundi dahil mahal niya ang mga taong tumutuligsa sa kanya at ayaw niyang patuloy silang gumawa ng kasalanan sa panlalait sa kanya.
Ang tanong ngayon, kelan natin sisimulan ang paglalakbay na ito ng Christian Perfection? When do we start our spiritual journey and discipleship?
The answer is simple. We start them early, as early as Kindergarten. We learn about loving God and faithful servants in our formation as kindergarten students. That is also the reason why I sent my kids to a UMC church. We sent them to Joy Kiddy Garden because we believe in their vision. The JKGLC believes every child is created in God’s image and treasure from the lord. It cultivates every child’s uniqueness according to God’s mandates and blueprint to become well-rounded and faithful servants. JKGLC aspires to be at the forefront of Christian witness through education. We also want our kids to be well-rounded disciples and learn from a Christian environment that provides  developmentally appropriate learning experience. That is another reason why I sent my kids to Joy Kiddy Garden.
Pero garantiya ba na magiging mabuting Christian ang mga batang ito? Even if we start them early, can we still fall out of the journey to Christian perfection?
Yes, John Wesley taught that we can fall out of relationship with God. Kapag nagakakasala tayo ay lumalayo tayo sa diyos at nasisira muli ang relasyon natin sa kanya at ang paglalakbay natin sa Christian perfection ay naantala. Kapag hindi natin minamahal ang kapwa natin at ang mga kaibigan natin ay mahirap tayong umusad sa Chrsitian perfection. Saan pa papunta ang buhay Kristiyano natin kung hindi tayo umuusad?
If we can fall out of grace, can we go back into our journey? Puede pa ba tayong bumalik sa paglalakbay patungong Chrsitian perfection? God’s prevenient grace calls us to love God and accept God’s forgiveness. We can back slide but we can still love God again and get back on track. That is the Good News my dear brothers and sisters. Kahit ilang beses pa tayong matisod at magkamali ang pag-ibig ng Diyos ay nananatili. We can still pursue Christian perfection even after we have committed sin.
In conclusion, nais kung sagutin ang tanong bakit maraming metodista ang walang matandaang spiritual birthday?
Tayong metodista ay makasalanan. Huwag na tayong pa- “as if” righteous. In our faith journey we have fallen back countless times. But we can always return and ask God for forgiveness. Everytime we ask God we renew our relationship and we renew our spiritual journey and experience another spiritual rebirth. Puedeng marami tayong spiritual birthday sa ating journey as many times as we fall out of relationship with God. But the first birthday is always special and we always hope that we never fall back.
Our Christian values as a society is deteriorating because we have failed to teach Christian perfection even to our children. Pakinggan natin ang utos ng Panginoon, turuan natin an gating mga bata ng maaga at bumalik din tayo sa ating paglalakbay sa Christian perfection. Makinig tayo sa utos ng Biblia: “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

Friday, February 21, 2014

100 Days after the Supertyphoon Yolanda: What is missing in building back better?

The strategy of building back better is not enough.

I had a talk with a survivor of Supertyphoon Yolanda and I was blessed by her words.

She said thank you for the work World Vision is doing in affected areas including Leyte and in rebuilding their town. But she said, the call to "build back better" is scary. She is afraid that the people are building back better the houses that were destroyed, the facilities, the businesses, the systems and other materials things damaged by the supertyphoon and that that may also be the focus of Christian NGOs and FBOs as well.

She said that Yolanda happened and became a wake up call for the people about their sins. People have recognized that their behaviors and their actions were sinful in that they destroyed the environment, they cut down trees to make way for rice fields, coco farms and factories, they failed to give value to human lives and the environment more than monetary profit, that they have forgotten to worship God and worked even on Sundays to earn more, to sell all the harvest from the crops to earn more and forgot to return to God part of the harvest, and many other sinful ways and acts. They have made profit their idols and turned away from God.

She is scared that when people will build back better, is that they will build back only a better worldly structure but they will not build back a better moral values and spirituality. That people will forget that their crooked ways and sinful life that led to risky actions and behaviors will not be better than before. That people will forget to rebuild their spiritual life.

Supertyphoon Yolanda had a big impact on the spirituality of the people. But the efforts in rebuilding the affected areas with the physical structures is not enough if the spiritual decay of the people is not rebuilt to be better. We are reminded, "Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon." (Isaiah 55:7)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Thank you from the Philippines

The Philippines is one in showing gratitude to the whole world for their solidarity and support to us.

Three months after the biggest Typhoon of 2013 hit the Philippines, we are slowly recovering.

I could not forget the gratitude of the Barangay Captain in an isolated town in Leyte when we came to visit them. He was so thankful for the simple presence of our group. When all the other towns and barangays were getting support, the people in their community were wondering if help will ever come. I could see his face lit up when he saw our group. He said that their isolation for several days made him wonder if people care about them. That was why he was happy for the simple fact that people are coming their way to see how they are doing. "We felt God's love through your presence."

It is indeed a great blessing to know that people care for you. Just knowing that people are concerned about your situation is already something to be grateful. A simple, "kumusta?" goes a long way. The outpouring of support is overwhelming.  The Filipino people are resilient because they have felt God did not leave them and still love them through the people who were willing channels of blessing.

More than the material support, the time and the effort we have received, the care and love you have shown is most appreciated.

To the biggest companies, governments or charitable organization up to the little kid who broke his piggy bank and the children who wrote their prayers for the Philippines... Thank you.