Awesome day! We headed out from the SIL again around 8:30 this morning, and jumped right into some of the ongoing projects at CCS. Today was primarily spent painting the main entrance, part of the retaining wall down the driveway, taking down their old rusty swingset (held up with rope from the tree above it), and scraping off old paint from one of their main fences. While much of our team worked on these, many of us still managed to get upstairs in the orphanage to play with the kiddos.
While painting today, I (Pastor James) looked over the front wall onto the street below. I had to do a double take, because something seemed to be off. There was a gentleman standing inside of a box. I later asked our local missionary, Sean, what the deal was, and sure enough, there are random stations set up throughout Manila that act as restrooms. There's a 5-gallon bucket and 4-foot walls to hide you.
We also worked again with the street kids, this time talking about Daniel and the Lions Den. We sang a few songs, colored some more sheets, passed out some Jesus Bracelets, and played basketball with them. They've been great kids to get to know, and you can tell the impact that CCS has had on their lives and their faith.
Meet JJ. He's eight years old and lives at the orphanage as the only child that's not a toddler or baby. He's partially blind and deaf. When he sees us, he runs to us and leaps in the air expecting to be caught by whoever's lucky enough to be chosen by him. He's got so much love in his heart and it's impossible not to love the little guy right back.
Around lunchtime today, a Lutheran pastor and his family visited from Sweden. Nine years ago they adopted a little one-year old boy named Harold from CCS, and they came back to reunite and recap the last few years. Now think about that - you wouldn't actually expect a family to come back to the orphanage just for a friendly visit. But truthfully, that's the kind of ministry that CCS is running. They really do care for these kids, reflecting Jesus and loving with all their heart. It was really cool to see!
When we were done working for the day, we had to find a ride home. In Manila, each vehicle can only be used for 6 days of the week in order to reduce smog in the air. They randomize its day off, and our van isn't allowed to drive on Tuesdays. So our driver, Bong, negotiated a Jeepney to veer off its normal route and take us back to the SIL. We jumped in, and the guy took off like he had just robbed a bank. He veered, dodged, and tossed us Americans around in the back seats, all the while "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper was blowing through the numerous subwoofers under our seats. At stop lights, random guys would jump in the back with us and Mary and Sean would have to kick them out because we weren't on the Jeepney's route anymore. It was crazy!
Once we got back to the SIL, we relaxed a bit and ordered in some Pizza Hut. Ed Strohschein, LCMS Business Manager in Asia was visiting from Hong Kong, and he stopped by to join us for dinner.
For devotions this evening, we talked about Psalm 103:1-16. Each of us really is like a flower in this life that blooms for just a brief time, and then we fade away. Flowers never grow beautiful for their own sake. They're planted, grow, bloom, and express beauty solely for the purpose and by the encouragement of the Gardener. Each of us needs to realize what we're living for, and what sort of beauty we're trying to show. Is it lasting beauty, or beauty that fades like a flower? We also talked through Psalm 63:1-5. The context there is King David fleeing for his life from his son, Absalom. David finds himself in a dry desert. He's hungry, thirsty, and his life has been drained out of him. But in spite of all this, he still praises God. He knows that even though he's hungry, thirsty, and tired, that God is still the God who always provides him with what he really needs in life. Our team is tired today. But as flowers we know where we've been planted in life, and we can praise God throughout whatever physical hardship, because we bloom for the glory of the Gardener. Blessings on your Tuesday!