I’ve always wanted my family, especially our girls, to get involved in some outreach program or service. I actually have been praying really hard for it. Well, we haven’t really found a place to serve. I’d like to think God is still preparing our hearts, spirits, and the people or community we would get involved in. Truly, the Lord has a way of answering our prayers and it usually comes as a surprise or in a manner not of our expectations.
This December, my dear friend and her two kids from Virginia, USA will be spending Christmas in Manila for the first time. They’ve been coming over quite often to visit her aging aunt and my friend feels she needs to spend time with her aunt before she loses the opportunity. Since it will be a first-time for her and her kids to experience Christmas here (Well, my friend’s last Christmas in the Philippines was when we were 2nd or 3rd year high school!), we decided to name this particular trip of theirs “Project Paskong Pinoy” .
As we did our usual emailing to each other, the topic on Christmas-giving came up. Our youngest, Kayla, reminded me that she still has her savings (all coins!) and we haven’t done anything about it, and so I shared that to my friend. At first, Kayla and I were thinking of buying grocery items to put in brown paper bags and distribute them to street people in Manila. Mike and I used to do that with a group of friends just before Christmas when we were with Singles for Christ in Makati. I realized that with her savings amounting to P1,060, we won’t really be able to buy that much to fill a hungry stomach and it won’t be able to feed as many mouths. Then, ideas started to flow!!!
How about buying Jollibee chicken meals instead? My friend liked the idea for her kids to experience Christmas differently from the way they have it over in the US. She then thought of us all doing this project by cooking rice and chicken nuggets at their place and packing them. She said that their place in Manila has a lot of squatters nearby and that all we need to do is have some control of the crowd who will be coming in to their house, which was going to be manageable since they have helpers and security guard. I also learned that my friend’s aunt used to do something like this before and it would make her happy to see kids in her house again. What a perfect set-up! So, after giving it some more thought, we finally decided that my family will buy some treats from the grocery while my friends’ kids will bring over their old toys to give away. We would put them in brown paper bags and even design them. My friend’s kids were really really excited that they made a prototype of the bag with the design that they will be making on each brown bag! Our emails became more exciting that we also wanted a name for this. First name I came up with was Operation Little Hands, Big Hearts. How about Operation Puso’t Kamay (Make it Taglish since our kids are Filipinos and Americans)? My friend’s daughter suggested that we change the name from Operation to Project since Operation sounded like a spy mission! She has a point! So, we continued to think. Project Help Manila. Project Christmas Miracle. Project _________? Final choice … Project Hearts and Hands (to make Little Hands, Big Hearts shorter)!
All our kids are really excited about this whole thing and we are all looking forward to doing it on the 26th of December! I can’t wait to post pictures of Project Hearts and Hands! 🙂
In the meantime, while waiting for Christmas Day and December 26, another opportunity to share came our way. Unfortunately, it’s a tragic one. The provinces of Dumaguete in the Visayas, Iligan, and Cagayon de Oro in northern Mindanao were terribly hit by typhoon “Sendong”. Thousands were dead; many are now homeless, orphans, and still searching for their family members and relatives who drowned while asleep during the night Sendong creeped in or who were washed away by the flood.
The social networking sites, Facebook for instance, have been very active after the tragedy struck and it’s very heartwarming to see people use these sites to seek help, respond to the appeal, and post whatever service they can offer.
Seeing how much food we have here in the house now that it’s Christmas time and friends have been giving all sorts of food as gifts and feeling how blessed we really are with not only the basics but even with luxuries, we made that little more sacrifice to give to the Sendong victims. If only we could send the food gifts we’ve been receiving to Mindanao…but they’re perishables, which I felt would not be a very practical thing to do. So, as a way to help, we gave a monetary donation to, at least, give the different volunteer groups a means to buy what they really really need at the moment for the victims.
As I’ve said earlier, God works in His unexpected ways. In our case, these two opportunities to share and give were His timely ways to help me teach the character traits I earlier on assigned for this quarter: humility and compassion. Isn’t God’s timing perfect? Not that I wanted the calamity in northern Mindanao to happen (of course not!), but indeed, the Lord orchestrates everything and knows how to put the pieces of the big picture together. He lets things happen to different people for different reasons.
I pray for the victims of Sendong…that they may have the strength, comfort, the Pinoy spirit of resilence and strong faith in God to be able to overcome the pain and difficulties that they are faced with now. I pray for us Filipinos who were fortunate enough and blessed to be not among the typhoon victims. May we take this opportunity to unite ourselves and to commit to be more responsible stewards of the environment and all the resources around us. May we also be moved to combine all our efforts just like the “bayanihan” to be able to do something more effective and efficient in disaster management and in improving our country as one people.
I also pray that these real-life experiences will enrich our girls and teach them to think less of themselves, be grateful, and help others in whatever way they can, not only during calamities but even during ordinary moments. Everyday is an opportunity to do a random act of kindness and to pay it forward; an opportunity to live out our Christian faith by loving our neighbor. ❤