Thursday, October 23, 2014

Letter to Dong

It is Lifenet Children's Foundation's 6th anniversary!

Six whole years since we were formally certified as a legitimate and registered charity......It wasn't really the start of the journey but it marks one of the chapter's opening paragraphs......

I wrote this letter back in 2009 to the first boy who captured my heart......The SEED that keeps on growing.......( The Lost Coin Project )

Letter to Dong
A Disabled, Abandoned Boy
Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines

I remember the first time you smiled – a genuine smile that lit up your face. Weeks of visiting you on your wooden frame bed, the stench of urine and waste on the dirt floor and wondering if you even knew I was there as you sat vacantly not wanting to move or interact. But at last we had at last really connected - Eye to eye – heart to heart. In the absence of language so much was communicated and you had for short moment something to smile about. Maybe it was the bubbles I had blown for you because you reached out your finger to pop them and looked at me with intrigue….

You studied the plastic shapes, rotating them in your hand and even tried to stack them. If I dropped one on purpose you reached down to retrieve it…..You pointed excitedly at the picture book, the basketball and the bike. What kind of life had you known before your abandonment? Your family? Your memories? What was your real name? So much I longed to know and understand.

They said it was a miracle when you got out of your wheelchair and walked with me. It wasn’t a miracle at all – you had the ability but had been left too long. You picked up your feet so deliberately and the other boys laughed as you marched. I wondered what else you could do if given the opportunity?
 There was so much life- a beautiful soul in a neglected body, caked in dirt, ingrained into your skin, always a running nose and deep echoing cough that never seemed to go away– a beautiful life hidden in the corner, forgotten and unappreciated….

I kissed you on your cheek last Christmas and promised we would have a place for you one day where you could know love; a home, a place to belong, to grow and be more than what you had been so long limited to. I dreamed it as a place for you. I drew a room for you downstairs in the plans and imagined you there on a proper bed, with a pillow and blanket, clean, with your book, laughing…..That dream was too late in coming for you…I’m so sorry it has taken so long….

You will never know how much your life inspired me – to reach out beyond myself, to believe that it is possible to make a difference. Knowing you and loving you, was the seed. May the tears that stream down be as liquid prayers to water it….and may it grow, not as a memorial but as a promise that you and countless other children like you deserve so much more….

Be loved dear one in the arms of your Father– who saw you and knew you and holds you forever.

A precious treasure in my heart always,
Loving you too,
Tita Mary

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Lost Coins: Finding The One!

Its more than 6 months since I last wrote about this journey:

The dream has been unfolding and growing steadily - A home now full of children aged 7-16 years - Kids who are abandoned, orphaned, neglected.....This is what it feels like I was made for.....Yet so often I'm still not satisfied....I feel like and identify with the woman who lost 1 coin - always searching and considering how to find it - My eyes are fixed on the many I have in one hand but with my heart turned outward focused on what is lost.....and the hand that is empty.

And so has begun 'The Lost Coin Project'  which is becoming a pursuit for answers and action- It is initiated and fueled by my sighting of a lone street boy as we drove home the other week - He was yanking on the sleeve of a security guard outside a bank in the city centre. The guard with his rifle gun slung across his chest, bullets in his belt,  shrugged him away in dismissal and obvious annoyance.....I wondered what the child was asking? He couldn't have been more than 7 years old...just a couple years older than our own daughter.....Why was he there alone and so late? Was he hungry? Was he just bored and trying to irritate the uniformed man, unfortunate to have to stay awake through a late night duty?

A few seconds later and he was out of view....We had already moved into another city district - It was pouring with rain and we needed to get home.....I later realised and confessed to my own children the next morning that we should have gone back.....I should have responded - I was just like every other person out late that evening - heading on with my own business.....My eyes saw but I blinked and it was gone ... I didn't take the opportunity ........(and I work with street children?.....really??????)

The 'Good Samaritan' was the only one who stopped and took action.....Why do we so often pass by?.....Too busy with our own agendas? Too inconvenient? Too costly? Too tired? Too distracted?....Next time I will (we promise ourselves)......So many excuses for inaction. ....Or are we just becoming so accustomed to switching channels with the remote of our heart as we are numb and deadened to feel anything anymore?

My own unanswered questions and evaluation of myself are resulting in an exploration to discover the value of the 'Lost Coins' around us - The ones that most walk by without seeing as they have rolled into the gutter and few venture in the dirt to find them.....They aren't worth very much - They are not worth replicating or forging as no-one is interested in 'small change' - The big bucks matter - The large currency notes - We don't drop those so easily -  but the few coins that get lost along the way?? Well they aren't really worth the time and effort for.....

For me that holds a hard reality - Coins that we have actually held in our hands but lost -  those children who somehow slipped through the net or were sucked away.....Coins that really count!.....Twelve have been lost in the past 2 years as runaways from House of many more have rolled away over these past 11 years of street children ministry.....Children that have died from treatable sicknesses, ones that have been murdered, ones that are now in jail, ones that have mysteriously gone missing, ones that are addicts, ones that now work in the garbage and dirt scavenging for survival.........

Far more than a handful of just loose change!

In the past 2 days two runaway boys have come back...One is now back sleeping in a bed as we start again with his restoration process - coming back off the solvent drugs, filling his mind with life and truth in exchange for the stealing and manipulation he returned to.....It feels like we are back to square one (AGAIN) - the other we will meet with on Weds as he and 2 others are now requesting to return home (again)

Honestly - I'm not sure they are actually ready to come back to House of Joshua - the transition is so challenging - The autopilot response to run when confronted with anything that triggers their fragile and temperamental 'flight' button - Their legs run and move before the heart and head catch up......and then its too late....

SO....what do we do now?......It seems like we need to change some things to help them move forward - the repetition of two steps forward and one back means we haven't moved anywhere with some of them....My Dad has always said 'If you change nothing, nothing changes'.....

But I don't know what change should look like if it is to be lasting among such dented hearts? Should we re-consider a Drop In Outreach Centre again?......How do we KEEP the little coins that we do find?......those that would be lost in the open sewage drain or stomped on by passing unaware, unresponsive feet.....

We need another door to reach these kids - They are vulnerable and slow to trust - relationships take time to build (crack, tumble, fall and rebuild again) They long for family but its the very thing that triggers so much pain...I'm searching for answers.....and in the meantime some of these coins get lost and then turn up (again and again).......They may be more dirty and tainted....but their value hasn't changed.....Small in a hand but worth more than we could dare to count.

"Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did"  1 John 2:6

(PLEASE see our family blog that we just started : : as we challenge ourselves and others to take action and respond practically to find the lost coins around us and show their value.....Maybe you should consider joining us and make a difference yourself?!)