The mission purpose is pretty simple but bigger than us. Writing is a big part because I am writing a curriculum. Faylene will be writing other things. So we have our work stations set up side by side. We are just beginning our third week at the Institute of Foundational Learning (IFL) in Cabuyao, Laguna, Philippines.
Within two days of returning to IFL, ladies from the Couples/Family Ministry went “nuts” right away, because they knew Faylene from Facebook Messenger and were excited to meet her. Just a little introduction meeting yielded a line of smiling women who wanted to hug and greet her as well as me. By the second meeting, we were all close friends–laughing and crying with men and women as we shared our testimony and had a chance to worship and pray with them.
The children at the IFL compound started a little more slowly even though several of them were already sons or daughters or grandchildren of sorts. Their shyness took the front seat because Faylene was a new face. The shyness for Faylene only lasted a day or two, however, as the word spread pretty quick that we were one in the same in purpose to love and serve. One child would visit, then another, then two or three would come at a time. By the end of the second week we had a groups of five to eight. Sometimes they came with pages of riddles, tons of laughter, and curiosity. Dinosaur books from Creation Ministries were popular. Some of those who are a little older and close to us would visit, then bring a friend the next day. While the light talks occur with the larger groups, the onesies and twosomes often have more serious questions and subjects. I knew the shyness was gone yesterday when the young girls wanted to visit with Faylene alone. She was “in.”
I regularly greet the youngest children who live on the compound. They usually play in small groups. Each one would watch as one broke away from the group and came running to get a greeting. My greeting for a couple of them who are close to me is a gentle toss in the air before catching them and setting them down. (It’s the same thing I used to do with the youngest of Faylene’s children over twenty years ago.) One little girl, having watched her friend’s greeting, began running to me, too, except the last step was a half a leap before getting tossed in the air. Then others, who knew me less, keep getting closer, silently expressing a desire, along with a little fear, to get the same treatment. Now it is a daily occurrence for a small group to come around. Each one waits to be tossed in the air, caught, and set down on the ground with a smile and a greeting.
Some of the older girls were taking turns watching an infant one day, so we got a visit from one of them who was watching the baby. Faylene had a chance to hold the little one as the others continued to talk to us. When a little one like this comes to the compound, even if it is only for a short time, it is a sight to behold as staff and children love on the child.
When school is in session, I walk through parts of it a few times each day. I’m always saying “hi” to staff and students during these walkabouts. I see them in assemblies, classrooms, break areas, and coming or going to the school courtyard. In the end, it’s all back to the same purpose: know the little or young ones who will be using the new biblical creation curriculum. With the faces in mind and reminders to pray for many young ones each day, I remember why I am spending hours at the writing station.
So, tomorrow I re-open the lessons that are nearly two thirds drafted and begin writing the last third of the draft. I have done the reviews of material and have settled my thinking, so it is time to get the work completed for a review team that will meet with me in the coming months. Teacher training follows the final draft preparation. Last, the curriculum will get a trial run at several schools. It will take several months for all this to happen.
While this big purpose is important, it would not have a proper context without our regular contact with community friends, IFL staff and children. The bond of love with them is an in-your-face reminder of the end use of the material that is written and it is the life blood of this people whom we love.Early this evening I walked with Faylene around the compound. It was quiet. Tomorrow is a school day, so the children are already in bed. We still passed some our adult friends and greeted them. Today we had two groups of children visit. I think we spoke with over twenty of our friends in the course of the day. It is a fitting day to show a few pictures and tell a little story. It’s an awesome thing to us as we consider the love and guidance of God, whose Spirit has brought us to where we are.
Faylene and I frequently talk about the amazing set of circumstances in each of our lives that have led to all of this. We are thankful to the One who made the preparations in us. The unfolding nature of the walk probably has more surprises as well as some challenges, but we are constantly reminded of His ability to do all things well. We can attest to that.