After Piper, Compassion placed another little girl under our sponsorship, her name is Ramiryl. We began sponsoring her right as she entered into school & she is now going into 5th grade. Following our time in Jasaan, we traveled to Cebu for what would be yet another "God meeting" in a long week of divine encounters. You see, we were simply going to Cebu to let Nic show us a little bit of the Filipino history. It didn't take us long to discover that Ramiryl lives in Cebu. We were actually going to get to meet her! This is something that most sponsors never get the pleasure of doing. What a privilege, what an honor!
We flew to Cebu City on Monday & were scheduled to meet with Compassion International the next day on Tuesday. Until then, it was time to find a guitar. We actually laned in Lapu Lapu City, which as it turns out, is famous for their Filipino crafted guitars. After a few visits, I found one that I really liked. It's a bit smaller than most average guitars & is made out of a mix of Philippine & Canadian woods with a pickup to boot. Now, to bargain. Thank goodness Nic's wife Cecilia was with us. After she took over, it came down from 9,000 to 7,000 pesos (roughly $175 dollars). Not bad, & it even came with a hard shell case for traveling. I was also able to get it signed by the local luthier. Anyway, I digress. I just wanted to let you in on a little of my joy!
On Tuesday morning, we could hardly stand the anticipation. Nic's driver took all of us over to Bethel Temple to meet Ramiryl & her family. We were greeted by the two women working with Compassion & they promptly took us up to meet Ramiryl, her sister Rochell & her mother Sheryl. As soon as we walked into the upstairs room, Ramiryl immediately stoop up to greet us in the proper fashion. She took my hand, as if to shake it, & brought it to her forehead. Of course, I then couldn't help but to hug her. Over the course of the next 30 minutes or so, we gave Ramiryl & her family all of the gifts we had brought. Thank the Lord that everything made it! She was, of course, very excited. One of the things that struck me the most is that from the moment we entered the room to the moment when we parted ways that afternoon, she constantly had Lisa in her grip, either hand in hand or arm in arm. It wasn't that she didn't have good parents, she was just simply overjoyed that we were there to visit her. After our initial visit & a quick look at her school records, we were off on a short walk to visit the Talledo home.
I can't stress to you enough what an emotionally gut wrenching & eye opening experience this short visit to her home would be. We walked about a 1/2 mile jaunt down the street, around the corner, across the busy street (terrifying) & into what would be a winding maze through one of the many hidden back alley slums in Cebu City. Seriously, I don't think I could get there again if I were on my own. All along the winding, narrow path, we were literally walking on stones that just barely covered the trickling sewage water just inches below. Finally, we were there. The entrance to their home was no more than a 3 foot squared hole in the wall. Upon entering this "hobbit hole" we walked a few steps on the rotting wooden floor covered in scraps of linoleum piled up. Right before the base of the tree (yes, in the house), we started the steep ascension up the rotten stairs to the 3rd floor that would be the Talledo home. Their "home" is no more than maybe 6'x10'. Keep in mind, this is half the size of Emily's bedroom, & four of them live here. You hear that these types of places exist, but it doesn't compare to actually seeing & walking around in one of these communities. Though I'm trying, there are truly no words to fully describe the level of poverty. They are poor, but the beautiful thing is that this lovely family absolutely does the best they can with what they have. They gave us the royal treatment! While Ramiryl & her sister began to pull out all of the gifts we brought, there father arrived. He was just arriving from work at, get this, Alaska Boy Milk. We couldn't help but laugh. Next, the mall!
When asked what she wanted to do next, Ramiryl said one word...PLAY! We were off to the SM mall, the 11th largest in the world. It's huge!! We spent the next couple of hours playing in the arcade, eating lunch at Jollibee (Asian equivalent to McDonald's) & going shopping. Out of respect, we asked her parents if we could buy her a few needed items. They had no problem with this. Now, Ramiryl is 10 years old, but it's obvious that she is well on her way to being a teenager. What does every teenager want? You guessed it, a cell phone! We promptly told her what we would have told our girls...you're too young. She laughed as we went on to get her a watch and a couple of pairs of shoes. As Ramiryl was looking at the watches, I noticed that Rochell was eyeing the Barbies. I asked the Compassion folks & her mother if it would be okay to get her one. They agreed & she began to pick out her very first doll. My heart both broke & leapt for joy at the same time. As it turns out, I asked if it would be possible for us to sponsor Rochelle as well. They thought it would be possible, but told me to contact the main office to make sure. Please pray that this all works out.
Well, it was time to say goodbye. After a quick photo with the whole family, we walked them out to their taxi, hugged them & waved goodbye. Friends, if there's anything I hope you get from reading this, it's simply this. Sponsor a child. It costs $38.00 dollars a month & I can promise you, it is some of the best money spent in our family's budget. You may never be able to meet your child, but you will be able to meet their needs, both physically, mentally & spiritually.
What a day!
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self- seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails..."