Wednesday, September 30, 2015

For the love of the poor . . .

The church we attend here in Oki goes on regular trips to an orphanage (GH) in the Philippines and always open it up for others to join.  This summer I threw the idea out to Jon that I would like to go not thinking it would be a possibility.  Then a few weeks ago they put out an email saying the team was small and asked if anyone else would like to put in an application to join.   Jon called me up to say Ashley get the application we will figure out things and I will take off work and finish C4 while taking care of the kids.  I put in my application and was accepted and immediately started going to team meetings.  Before we headed out we realized that Jon would be leaving the island the day before I was to get home to go to mainland for work.  We talked about what to do and even discussed me leaving them team but our amazing friends stepped up and said don't worry we will help with the girls.  
Day 1 - Our team leader was not allowed to go with us because his passport expired in 4 months and they had some rule about it needing to be good for 6 months.  That threw us all but the pastor from the church looked at another member and asked him to step up and lead.  We were a team of 5 adults and 1 kid.  I talked to my mom and told her the name of our hotel and it ends up that the owners daughter go to her bible study in Maryland.
Day 2 - I got to work with the school aged boys and it was amazing.  These boys speak Tagalog, English and American Sign Language. Some of the kids in the GH are unable to speak so many of the others have learned sign language to communicate.  We played basketball and got to go to a local park.  It was amazing going to the park because we went with almost all the kids at GH and the sibling groups would meet up and play together for a little before going back to their own groups.
Day 3 - Got to worship with all the kids.  It was amazing and made me realize how much I miss working with kids during church.  We were warned that the caregiver who leads worship makes it more like a ZUMBA session with dancing and signing - that was true but the kids seemed to love every minute of it. 
Day 4 - Many of the kids go to public school and a few stay at the orphanage to get some extra hands on learning and I got to work with them.  Coming up with problems was the easy part - getting the answers faster than the kids was the hard part.  This night we also found out there was a Dairy Queen near us and that they sell Granny Smith Apples at the local grocery store - after a few days with emotions running high it was nice to have a few things I miss from America that we don't have in Oki.  Oh and to bring a few smiles at the dinner table I took the dare to eat the fish eye after we had our doubts about being able to eat our whole fish dinner and not insult the cooks.
Day 5 - I got to work with the preschool kids.  We sang, wrote, colored and walked to the park.  The caregivers gave us the opportunity to work in many of the rooms so we could meet most all of the kids.  People on our team starting getting a little sick.
Day 6 - Today was the day I feared - the toddler room.  That is a lot of little kids who are potty training and don't take naps so they sleep at night.  The caregivers in this room were amazing and made my time in this room so awesome.  The little girls had ballet and watching them get prepped and ready and dance was so fun.  One of the workers has a background in ballet and teaches classes to all the girls throughout the week.  Two of our team members had to stay back at the hotel because of an illness.
Day 7 - I got to be in the toddler room again and today was lots of reading books, doing hair and playing chase.  Also I escaped the room to go watch the big girls in their ballet class.
Day 8 - Today we painted nails for all the girls.  In the afternoon we got to take the boys to the zoo. 
Day 9 - I was pretty sick most of the night.  We think I might have picked up something from the zoo.  So today I worked in the nursery were I could hold the babies and run to the bathroom.
Day 10 - Got to do one last worship time with all the kids!!!  We handed out letters to each kid - for most of the kids I printed a picture of them and wrote the note on the back of the picture.  As we were leaving we handed them out and the kids loved the notes and they all had notes to give to us.
Day 11&12 (which was only supposed to be one day)  We headed out and flew in Taipei into Typhoon Dujuan.  Once we landed we were told the airport was closed and we needed to leave.  We left and went to a hotel.  The windows were leaking before the typhoon even hit and we changed rooms.  After the room change we went to the dining room and got some dinner and made some friends who a lot of older ladies.  The next day we were back at the airport hoping to get out.  I got my Taipei airport haircut, did some cultural experiences and enjoyed delay after delay after delay. At one point I had to call a friend to see who actually had my girls and let them know I still had no idea when I would be getting home and would they be able to continue helping me.  After many hours I was home and thankful for the many friends who stepped up to take care of the girls while Jon and I were both off island.
Getting ready to leave

Hanging out

View from my workout spot each morning

Sunday morning worship and lesson



Blocks - hours of entertainment

Had no idea how to start eating this but it was amazing.
The eyeball was worth eating b/c I got a free blizzard from my teammates

Had my hair done a lot and did a lot of hair

Game time

Everybody walks to the park even the 2 year olds

Glue, paper and toddlers - what could go wrong?


Park time

Preschool Ballet

Park time with big kids

BINGO - followed by jumprope time and basketball

Painting nails

When you run around a 4 story building with no shoes for hours on end

Zoo with the boys

Love seeing these kids during sign practice

The hotel with the most amazing papaya salad.
My mom goes to bible study with the owners daughter - small world!

Lisa had a medical background so she got to do hearing tests on the kids

The babies

One guy on our team helped set up a computer lab

Sunday morning worship


Just a little hot from singing and dancing

The best cooks ever!!

The kids drew a picture of our team

Learning we were not making it all the way home
Typhoon Dujan

Standing water in the room before the typhoon hit full force

Dinner entertainment
Learning mandarin with these ladies

The only place I have got my haircut since moving to Oki
The Taipei airport spa

Cultural experience in the airport - thankful for these moments to pass the hours of delays

First Grade

We have a first grader!!!!  This summer we spent a lot of time traveling and having fun and it was a hard transition for this momma to get back into the rhythm of a school schedule. For the meet the teacher I couldn't pull myself away from a beach day with friends until 20 minutes before the event.  We met the teacher and only smelled slightly salty.  After that we started the fun routine of walking to school every morning and walking to pick up each day.  We have a great teacher again this year and we are all starting to enjoy first grade. 
One last coffee date

Beach morning with friends

Meeting her teacher and classmates

She picked her own outfit out and even bought it on a shopping trip

Year round preschool keeps going

Year round preschool but still wanted to hold a sign

Love this kid - can't believe how grown up she is getting

Jon was able to have the morning off to walk her to the first day

I think daddy had a harder at drop off then she did

The squat - she is hillarious