I was dismayed to discover I had been put with the babies group for the week! I don't do babies and toddlers in groups bigger than 2! I mean, the students of the VTS are teenage girls, the kind of group I like working with most and here I was chasing after kids, wiping snotty noses and getting peed on! Every morning and afternoon during the sessions, we took the children of the students and staff so they could be fully engaged in their sessions. With Lovisa, my co-leader, we lugged 5 children under 3 yrs old along with our bags, their bags and cookies to placate them, up to our room to proceed the chaotic mix of games, discipline, pee breaks, cookies and juice and some ultra sweet moments as well.
Wow! As I struggled through the first few days, I began to soften towards my "mission." It was hard, it was dirty, it was lonely at times but I told God, "Ok. I came here because I really long to see people find healing for the traumatic events they've been through. And if watching these kids will help the parents experience this healing, then I'm willing. But please God, HELP!"
It's true that my giftings lie in listening, counselling and relationships, and perhaps I would have been best suited to be a small group leader. But that's not the point. I was chosen to do a task for the team and to do it joyfully. Well, I had moments of joy...no really, I did. And I tried to put my own wants aside and just be the best auntie for those kids that I could be, despite my limitations.
Some of our joys:
Our one and only little girl, Fiona, would throw a tantrum every time she had to leave the mother and we would have to literally carry her kicking and screaming to the room and then she would settle down. About mid-week she would protest a little and finally by the end of the week, she was happy and willing to come with us.
There was a day we went for a walk with the children. We went for frequent walks. The children were so curious and would stop along the way to explore and so we too would stop. Then I noticed that if Auntie Lovisa began to walk ahead of them, the children, now fully trusting us, would toddle behind like chicks following the mother hen. Again they would stop to explore and again, when Lovisa kept walking, they would follow behind without needing to be told. It was so precious!
Our 10 month old baby, John Paul took his first steps in our presence! Later when we told the mother, we got him to demonstrate, and he walked clear across the room to fall happily into his mother's arms! What a milestone for a child and what a privilege for us to witness it!
I just laughed every time one of our boys said the word "butterfly." Like, "butterfuhly" with his tongue sticking out on the "fuhly" bit. It seriously cracked me up and he liked that it made me laugh and said it a lot over the week!
Anyway, all of that is to say, I have now understood Ang Tulay is so much about the seemingly small moments because those small moments make up the larger journey we call life. Each journey begins with a step. Each life begins with a seed. John Paul literally took his first steps on his life journey, his mother took some steps towards healing and I also think I took a few steps on that journey of self-discovery and the discovery of God's mysterious ways of knitting us all together.
Now the Precious Jewels team from the Philippines have gone back. This season is over. We will see them again next year. What a deep and full three months we have had!
|Lovisa with the children|
|Fiona, Elisha and Joseph|
|Joseph and Ezekiel|
|Elisha and Fiona|
|Shiomar helping us with the kids|
|Goin' for a walk|
|Shiomar with John Paul|
|Mother Hen with her chicks|
|The boys liked anything with wheels|
|Some of the participants of Ang Tulay with team members|
|Saying goodbye to Teacher Eve, team member, roomate, friend|
|Julius, in the background, one of our team members is father to these two kids, Joseph and Ernest, with Eve.|
|Meeting a new friend, Erica.|