Note: If you missed my first post about the church in the garbage dump, you can read it here.
Today we spent about four hours in Tondo. Pastor Roy took us around to student’s homes that a few of us sponsor.
It is very hard to describe what those homes are like. There is no running water, no electricity, no bathroom. I asked Pastor Roy what they do for the bathroom.
For number two, they ask the other family members to leave the room and they put a paper on the ground, go on top of it, then in Pastor Roy’s words, “wrap it up like a present” and throw it away (don’t give me that gift!). For number one, the women go in a can and dump it outside. Men go outside.
The areas are so small and you have one or two rooms for whole families. It’s hard to imagine these lovely people living in conditions like this, once you get to know them. Without interaction, it’s like, “Oh, I’m sorry you live like that, but that’s your life.”
But when your heart starts to mix with them and get to know them as individuals, it’s different. You see them in the church setting with clean clothes, but then you see where they live and it’s very hard living. Our mission in Tondo just got extremely personal today.
So we visited four or five homes and students’ families. I see why sponsorship is vital. School is free, but they spend 12 hours in school, which is two meal times. There are also clothes to look somewhat presentable and school supplies.
Seeing their homes, I see there is no way their parents can afford to give their kids two meals for the school day, clothes, and school supplies. I can see why sponsorship is necessary to keep them going to school, and hopefully an education will get them out of Tondo one day.
We are short on sponsors, so please pray that sponsors rise up to meet the needs.
After that, it was time for the weekly bathing. The youth group kids help to bathe the little ones, their only bath for the week.
Then the kids lined up and received clothes we had brought.
Then a time of prayer and teaching by Pastor Roy.
And then the feeding ministry. They give soup and rice to the children once a week. We have donors who support this, although we’re short on them, too. Please pray for donors to support the feeding ministry.
The kids take their bowls home and the whole family shares in it. Each bowl is not for one kid; it’s for the whole family.
After that we stopped at the ship port to pay for the three ministry team members who are taking a boat to Masbate. The weather is looking good now on the water, so thanks for praying for that.
We went back to the hotel, but there was a great excitement for the end of the day. We invited the church workers (20 of them) to have the buffet dinner at our hotel.
Now most of them have never been to a restaurant like this where there are choices of salads and meats and side dishes and breads and drinks and seafood and fruits and deserts. They got all dressed up.
It filled me with such joy to see them enjoying themselves over dinner. No worries about where their dinner would come from. No eating in filth. Just enjoying an abundant and delicious meal with their friends.
We had to instruct them that they can go up as much as they want, and their eyes were like, “We can?” and explained they need to get another plate.
And after they had gone up three or four times, their stomachs were filled…and I’d like to think so were their hearts.
A couple of the boys had to use the restroom, so I walked in with them to help. They had never seen an automatic water faucet or soap dispenser or paper towel dispenser, so I showed them.
We’re leaving Manila tomorrow for an island called Masbate. I don’t know when I’ll be back to Tondo. But somehow I miss it already. I can’t believe I’m saying that, but I’m leaving behind the people who survive there every day, who have become my friends.
I will think of them when I flush a toilet or turn on the faucet or go into my refrigerator and remember these are but fantasies for my friends in Tondo.