Gerald (Loida's brother)

His cool, slanty eyes followed my every move as I cared for his little sister. He didn’t speak. Just ate the food we brought him and slept on the cot we put in the room with his sister. He was a drug addict, I was sure. He just had that way about him. Sunday morning came, the 3rd day of his little sister’s confinement here and I asked him to come to our service in the garden. He nodded and actually came. He had no emotion or expression but his eyes took everything in, you could see it.
I nattered at him, every day. I asked too many questions. I knew his innocent one word answers were lies. I confronted him, challenged him and told him Jesus loved him just as he was. He never spoke.
One night, his father showed up at our door and demanded to take little Loida home. I was infuriated. She was not yet healed! I was prepared to be gracious and gentle and explain for the 100th time why she needed to be confined and healed fully before going back to a dirty squatter shack. But as I hit the bottom of the stars and in full force I screamed at the parents and the innocent little pastor that had brought them here. Everyone was frozen. I grabbed Loida by the hand and demanded the father to come and see the wounds, that he had never actually laid eyes on. I showed him as Loida sobbed on the bed. The brother was still silent, watching, waiting for his father to react. A simple nod of his head and the father left the room, knowing I had won.
The next days were full of opportunities that we took to encourage Gerald to change. He was a very soft spoken guy with enough bad experiences and sin to lock any one away for a very long. I found out that his family was one of the most notorious drug families in their area. His father was a dealer. Gerald himself, was a dealer and a user. All 6 brothers and sisters had been in jail at some time or another for drugs. He was the leader of a gang. He was one tough guy.
But last Sunday, he raised his hands in worship and I saw him praying. He went home that night, packed his clothes and came back. He wanted to stay. “I like it here,” he told me. “I have no withdrawal and I’m happy. I can’t ever go back,” he added. “Then there is no hope for anyone from where I come from.” He smiled as I sat amazed at the miracle that God had already done in Gerald’s life.

Update on Loida

She was burned by hot water but the week long stay in the hospital left her in worse condition than she should have ever been. Covered in crusty thick infection, she was unable to move her neck or arms because of the pain. She was so little to be in so much pain and to be so scared.
Loida1
She has been here for 2 weeks now, her little voice constantly chattering cheerfully. We took her to the beach with us and she had so much fun!
There were many days of excruciating pain when the infection had to be cleaned off her wound. Bandages were changed every 6 hours and medication was put on with much prayer.
God has shown He does heal.Loida2

In coordination with another missionary couple, we are seeing God move in this little girl’s family. The entire family has spent time in jail for drugs at one time or another. None of them have finished school past grade 3. They are notorious for drug dealing, fighting, and much more. God turned a serious situation into something that will be for His Glory!

Good Friday

We go every year… to the streets of Pasay, where men young and old, line up to begin the parade of pennants. They hold their bamboo whips tightly. Their backs and feet are bare… two hours of as much self-inflicting punishment as one can take, about to begin.
Yes, many have said ‘stupid’. Many have called them ‘blind’. Many shake their heads and laugh. And many take pictures, watching as they would a movie.
I make an effort as I move through the crowd to see their eyes. I walk, my head held high though the blood spatters on my clothes. I am always mesmerized by the sound of the bamboo. It has a hypnotic music to it. Their bodies sway with the impact, the dance lessens the blows. The blood drips silently.
Easter
I see eyes staring through the jagged holes cut haphazardly in the head cloth they wear. Eyes red from the binging of alcohol and drugs early this morning. Tired eyes. Eyes that are playing a game… eyes that are so serious.  Heavy eyes. Eyes that seem empty. Eyes that hold mine for more than a second, staring, full of pain, of fear, of torment. Eyes that look away, look down… look back.
I try to blend in with the walls, the people around me, anything to not be noticed. I am embarrassed to be thought of as a tourist wanting to watch a show. I shrink away from the tall white man taking pictures.
Some one says to me how stupid this is. How it is so senseless. I understand…But I need to be here. I need to connect… streets lined with men of all sizes and shapes but men that I am sure started out like our boys. Their bodies are covered with tattoos, some from the jails, some marking what gang they belong to. But all are human, all are sons of Adam, all sons of God. Somewhere something went wrong… the devil has them in his grip, they are slaves to culture, to tradition, to something so dark.
I am moved to tears but I hold them back. One man struggles to carry a cross. He stumbles. My mind thinks of Jesus… there was no juice, no eggs, no one offering water. He wears a crown of thorns… but it does not pierce his brow and his back in not bloody nor raw. He is tired. He is exhausted from just carrying a cross a short distance. He collapses and lays on the blood soaked pavement before me. Someone holds his cross while he rests. Oh Jesus… sweet Jesus… how did you do what you did?
They crawl on their stomachs, walk on their knees. At the end, they are given water, juice, a snack and their raw backs are washed and guava leaves are smeared on their wounds to ease the pain. Then life is back to normal… some are joking, some are smoking, some are quiet. The day will go on as if nothing happened.
But I am changed… again. I am reminded, challenged, overwhelmed at the thought of what Jesus has done for me. Not just for the drug addict, the murderer, the abuser. But for me… a simple pastor’s kid grown up to be missionary. I am reminded of Jesus love for me. I am driven to do more, say more, help more, be more.
As we walk back to the van, we pass some men, masks gone, they look no different, nothing special. “Are you okay?” I ask one young man. “Yes,” he answered with a sigh. “I feel so much better.” I smile at him and said, “Take a rest this afternoon. You put your body through a lot.” He nods and smiling, wipes his brow. He leans against the wall, pale and exhausted.
I am thankful for the sun on my face… for the stirring in my heart… the pain I feel, the fresh realization of Jesus’ blood. Truly, His blood says everything.

John Rey Goes Home

In 2003, this little boy came to us, with many special needs. His mother had tried to abort him many times, and the alcohol abuse in pregnancy, was evident at birth. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) brings with it many difficulties, never mind the other damage that was done due to drugs. Every day was a struggle for him. A hole in his heart, muscles that didn’t work, eyes that didn’t see clearly, ears that didn’t seem to hear, hair that didn’t grow, and feet and legs that had no tone and hung limp from his too-small body. He never made any noise other than a shrill cry that came without tears.
How many times did I pick him up and gently explain the harsh reality of life to our many visitors who seemed drawn to him- afraid to hold him, and too nervous to hold him, but unable to pull away from him. Involuntarily, he would bang his head or cry out as though he had a sharp pain. It was heart wrenching because there was nothing we could do.
For almost 4 years, we have loved this little one. He has not grown, nor gained weight. Our caregivers have loved him and treated him with such gentle understanding. He has blossomed in spite of his many serious handicaps.
Two months ago, John Rey got pneumonia and we took him to a hospital for treatment. It was horrible. He was tied down and a tube jammed down his throat. He was stared at, prodded at, and suctioned with no mercy. The doctors in the busy children’s ward, had no time to be personal but looked at him as a kind of creature and John Rey fought everything. He didn’t understand and was almost impossible to give any treatment to. When he was discharged after two weeks, the caregivers were traumatized and our little John Rey never seem to really recover. He cried a lot more, never smiled, and seemed so small and timid. Some of his teeth were missing that we never figured out how or why. We all decided we would never do that to him again…
On Tuesday night, April 5, 2007, at 1046pm, little John Rey flew to Jesus. His breathing slowly got more labored and labored. He didn’t respond to nebulization or oxygen. He fought like a wild animal when we tried to put the mask on. After many hours of struggle, of not responding to any intervention, his breathing slowed and he labored more until we knew it was the last breath. His right arm came up over his chest and then he let it drop slowly. An untimely smile suddenly crossed his lips. And the air was still.
I have never understood John Rey and God’s purpose. As I sat with him, holding his little hand in his last few hours, I prayed for peace. I had no tears. I asked God if I was cold, hard. I watched Jazz (our Canadian short term missionary) as she sat by his side. Never flinching, never emotional, never wavering. Just watching. Sometimes singing, sometimes praying. She was so strong for her 22 years. John Rey didn’t like to be touched or held  Its part of FAS but she rubbed him when he would allow. And she and I sat watching his every move thinking it should be his last. He struggled to live, and he struggled to die. My simple human mind wanted him to be at ease, with no pain, no fear.
In that last moment, John Rey, did you see Jesus? Did the angels take your tiny hands and teach you to walk, to run? Did you yell and shout with your new little voice? Did the streets of gold feel wonderful on your new feet or did you curl up in Jesus’ lap and snuggle and tell him everything you have wanted to for so long… I can’ only imagine.. and the relief and hope of it all… my dry callous cheeks, are hot and burning with tears that I still don’t understand.

Balong

Balong
Balong, they called him. They didn’t even know his real name… he has been with us Since that time, we have learned the circumstances of his birth and the explanations behind the neglect that he experienced so early in life.
He has always seemed weak. He gets whatever illnesses are going around in the nursery. He has had fevers on and off it seemed endlessly. And he is so emotional. So sad. So weepy. If you knew the whole story, you would understand. His chocolate drop eyes stare blankly when you talk to him.
Three weeks ago, his father came for a last visit before leaving for his overseas job once again. He promised to bring him back after a few hours… I had misgivings but I get tired of being the “bad guy” so I gave in. He didn’t bring him back until the next afternoon. An overtired, unhappy, dehydrated little boy. The next day he had a fever, the beginning of this present illness.
A swollen hand, then arm, then leg… then bumps on his stomach… skyhigh fevers that wouldn’t break. Chills would follow and his breathing was shallow and rapid. He was septic. The third doctor we took him to finally recognized there was something very wrong and he was immediately hospitalized.
Yesterday, taking a calculated risk, they put him under general anesthesia and lanced the absessess that were eating away at his tissue. The puss from one alone filled a cereal bowl. The pneumonia and asthma made waking up from the operation very difficult and he struggled to come to but he made it with lots of suctioning and nebulization.
He is much better this morning. His eyes are alert, his cheeks rosy but not with fever. The swelling in his face is gone, and he ate a good breakfast. He is drinking his milk and the drainage tubes in his wounds are not hurting so much. What a brave little boy he has been. So here I sit with him in a tiny little hospital. The puke yellow paint is peeling off the walls, the floor stained. There is one tiny window that stares out onto the back wall of the building. But it is quiet and away from the fast pace of my life and I have spent time praying and I know God has put this baby in our life for a purpose and we are to fight for him. Rejected and neglected so much in his first 8 months of life, he is quiet and stares at me. I lay close and pray over him and tell him how special he is and that Jesus loves him. He doesn’t make a sound.
Dra. Solomon is a Christian pediatrician who does her work out of her love for Christ. She has a heart for the poor and actually runs an orphanage of her own. She prays over her patients and told me that there was spriritual warfare over our little one. “The Devil wants him,” she said. “You need to pray.” I didn’t tell her about the mother and how we had been trying to get her off the streets. A prostitute, she is 8 months pregnant, still doing heavy drugs. Her home is a drug dealer’s hideout. How many times that mother had come crying to me wanting help but when I turned around to help her, she had run away. Warfare, yes, I’d say so. “I am certain,” the doctor went on, “that God has a mighty plan for this little man.”
So, would you cover little ‘Glen’ in prayer? Pray the bacteria dies and the infection leaves his body. Pray his deficient immune system will begin to work. Pray for his red blood cells to produce and get strong! If you would like to send money to help us with his hospital stay, that is always welcome and greatly appreciated. His intervenous antibiotics are $60 a day, never mind the hospital bill. It is often tempting to look at the cost to save a life but I know all things work together for good. A conference with Dra. Solomon may have got me a contact with a specialist here in the Philippines for Efren… who is so very very sick. Please keep praying for Gentle Hands, our boys, our family, and our babies.