Monday, August 24, 2009

Helen has been on our staff for a long time. She moved over from being a caregiver at the little children's home to be a home supervisor at Shiphrah Paanakan (Exodus 1 Birthing Home) because of her extraordinary leadership and industry.

All of her skills were on display today when I visited her small restaurant. It doesn't even have a name, but she and her husband, Noel, sell hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, and soft drinks.

Noel leaves for the market at 4 every morning to buy the meat and other supplies for the day. Their shop is open all day--their busiest hour being from 11 pm to midnight.

Helen has been sharing with me about their struggles in business. Profit margins are slim, of course--and the rain doesn't help. But they would probably be making it if they hadn't taken a 5/6 loan in desperation to get started. 5/6 means that every month they pay 20% of the principle as interest. For them, it's P2,000 ($45) every month--just in interest. Last month they didn't even make the interest payment, let alone any progress on the principle.

I visited just to get a better feel for the situation. And Helen's charm is winning. With the utmost of simplicity they've managed to create a dignified and appealing environment.

When I was there, besides grilling a P10 (c20) hamburger, they were packaging chicken skin chicharon (imagine deep fried chicken skin done up sort of like chips) for sale in local call centers.

Of course, everyone in the neighbor- hood is related or at least friends. Practically every home has some little store out in the front of it, from a barber shop to a bakery, from an internet cafe to a used clothes store. And graffiti. (This is a censored detail of a more ambitious work.)

Email me about our loan programs for staff. I have such an urgency to see them succeed. Helen and Noel work so hard for their 7-year-old, Michelle. All they need is a little break. A two-hundred dollar loan would hardly make them millionaires, but it would get the loan sharks off their backs. And a little leg up, with a lot of industry, could make a world of difference.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The boy's summer was mostly soccer.

Of course, it was mostly Aubrey. But Auden joined in too. Their coach worked really hard to include him, and they both think the entire world of coach Clod.

And Auden took it very earnestly, for the few minutes it could hold his attention.

Most of his time was actually taken up on the sidelines looking for butterflies and spiders.

Aubrey really came on. Of course it wasn't always easy to keep the interest up, but now when he plays with his (older) friends (who haven't played as much football) they say, "Aubrey, you're so good." And he beams and tries to make it true.

It's awesome to see him become really proud of something he does well.

We got him his first real soccer ball. That was a bit of an (expensive) ordeal. It was beautiful, but of course by now it's all scratched and scarred.

Besides his soccer skills, sometimes you just see him standing there...and you realize how big he's gotten. How much of his own person he is. How full of joy and ideas.

These pictures are from the 4th of July. The boys all went up a line with the rescue squad. This is Bryon...

...and his brother John Paul. Filipino school is back in session, so they're not around as much as they were. But it was a great summer of play and learning.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Celebrating God's goodness: Polong Degala, the son of Susan, of our caregivers, was rushed in for an emergency appendectomy--or so we thought. It actually turned out to be a tumor. I visited, expecting him to be in pretty rough shape from the descriptions I had been getting, but they had found a new antibiotic that works, so his fever dropped after most of a week at around 40. He's home now and recovering, but you could pray for the family. And, of course, we're all recovering from the considerable expense of the situation. But very happy that all is well.