Happy All Saints Day!
I had a horrible dream last night, that I was in the Philippines, in some kind of squatter area on the side of a hill, much like Payatas but not, though there was a small swimming pool in front of me with something just sticking out of the water, when I looked closely it was Glen standing on the bottom of the pool, not floating up, just with his hair poking through the surface. Terrie Yandall was there also, and Des. Suddenly above is we saw this balloon sort of thing, (like those floating war things) fly over our heads and descend quickly into the valley of houses below us. As it hit the ground there was a tremendous explosion and looking at Des we knew we had to get as far away as possible. I remember thinking it was some sort of nuclear explosion. We began running but the 'house' we were in began to shake and slide down the hillside. Soon it was upside down on top of us but we managed to get out as it slid towards the explosion. I was standing next to Des as I stood up. Then I woke.
Every morning as soon as the kids think I am awake enough, they come over saying 'Morning Manang Ami', leaning onto my bed for a hug. Normally as I am in some kind of 5.30 confusion, and am not particularly responsive. This morning was no exception, though I felt a certain relief in knowing the explosion was just a dream. I have been in the Philippines 4 weeks, and am missing home and thinking of it a lot. To some degree this is worsened by the isolation from the outside world that I feel at Joyland most of the time, but I am comforted to enjoy the little time I have with these kids.
Spent the time after breakfast reading, while the girls performed a long clean and scrub and tidy of the dorm. Then morning tea (bananas) and I spent some time in Pastor and Mamzets house talking to them about jewellery making (they are experimenting) and about speaking English and the kids.
I asked Pastor what he knew of Roz's background, and he said that her parents were murdered in front of her. The men came with balaclavas over their faces, with machetes and Roz' father was protecting her and told her to run, else she would have been killed to. They were arguing over the land. This shocked me a little, as it was more terrible a story than the one Roz herself told me, but I guess an 6-year old copes with this trauma only by blocking it out.
We spoke also about Melanie and her behaviour, and he said her mother had gone crazy and Melanie was like a wild animal so I guess her behaviour has improved somewhat. She is a bright kid and very competitive, pastor thinks he will be a leader one day. Pastor also mentioned Zhavy, a girl much like Marites who had been abandoned but who had left Joyland a few years ago to be adopted. Unfortunately her street kid mentality was always getting the better of her and despite her sweetness she would steal, sometimes petty and worthless things; she once stole some wool out of my suitcase that I was using to make bracelets for each of the Joyland kids. She stole from the lady who had taken her in, and eventually the lady gave her up again, and she was back in a home like Joyland.
We talked at length about the issue of wealth and how many Christians use the Bible to say what they want it to say, lest they have to sacrifice their money for the poor. There are so many who can afford to give and don't, and many who can't afford and do. It is all about the use of your wealth rather than the quantity of it. You are rich not from the money that goes into your bank account, but by the love that gives out of it. We spoke about many things, and it was a pleasant time getting to know Pastors heart and thoughts better. They long for me to come to Joyland and work, and welcome Dave too.
I also found out that the reason we hear gunshot so often is because there is a shooting range nearby, a welcome relief to me, who was beginning to dread that one day I would be told that gunmen had stormed Joyland and killed everyone, a horrid thought that doesn't worth thinking about.
Soon it was lunchtime - which included pumpkin, my favourite Filipino vegetable. After lunch we had some marshmallows! I was pleasantly surprised as we never have dessert! It is Joys birthday on Sunday, and Mamzets soon so they were talking a lot about different treats, doughnuts, ice cream, chocolate cake, pavlova. It made me very hungry!
I showered and rested with the younger kids during the afternoon, and slept a little longer than they die to my lack of sleep last night. I soon got up and joined them outside, playing, taking pictures and venturing to get berries off the tree by lifting them up to stand on my shoulders, or using a stick to drag down the branch and grabbing the berry before it was flung skyward. Good fun.
After Mamzet had finished a meeting with the older ones in the Payag we relaxed inside watching Beauty and the Beast, before dinner- pumpkin and coconut milk soup. Yumm. I guess they have pumpkins to use up but that doesn't bother me! It was delicious and after prayers it was back to the dorm. During their showers Melanie, Tesa (Marites) and Tina (Christina) were playing around and I playfully grabbed them as they came out of the shower, wrapped them in their towel and rubbed their back as you do a small child after a bath. Then I carried them to their beds and after they were dressed combed their hair. It became a game of mum and babies, and surprisingly; after her outburst earlier in the week; Melanie kept calling me 'Mama'. I did not encourage it, as much as I would love to be a loving parent to these girls, I am leaving in 3 weeks and do not want them to think another parent has abandoned them. I know it was just a game, but I am fearful of letting any thought like that fester - the girls asked me if I liked to have babies, and when I said no, they were relieved because they would be jealous. I assured them that even if I had children I would love them just the same, but the thought stuck in my head. While life attachments remain in the UK, I am content on being Manang Ami, distant but loving older sister, much like Mel and Laura were whilst we were growing up.