2014: You Were a Beautiful Storm; a playlist

An important year-ender tradition – a playlist to sum up my year.

2014, you were ridiculous, and this music helped me roll with your punches. You were far from what I expected, but absolutely amazing nonetheless. A beautiful, stormy year were you.

Songs are in no particular order. And yes, I’m a little upset that I had to put a Pitbull song into the mix.

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Prayer in C – Robin Schulz Radio Edit – Lily Wood and The Prick

Give Me Faith – Elevation Worship

Gospel – The National

Girls Chase Boys – Ingrid Michaelson

Wild Wild Love – Pitbull

Here with Me – Susie Suh

Baby Don’t Lie – Gwen Stefani

How Long Will I Love You – Ellie Goulding

Neon Love – Claire

Another Story – The Head And The Heart

Let Your Hair Down – Magic!

A Long Time Ago – First Aid Kit

Bones – Dustin Tebbutt

Magic – Coldplay

I’ve Told You Now – Sam Smith

Good to Me – Audrey Assad

Maps – Maroon 5

Mercy – Phil Wickham

For My Help – Hayden Calnin

Geronimo – Sheppard

My Silver Lining – First Aid Kit

One Day Like This – Elbow

Stacks – Bon Iver

I Had This Thing – Royksopp

“Imperfection is part of life: It’s where the poetry and humor hide.” -Dorte Mandrup-Poulsen

 

The playlist is also on Spotify and YouTube: “Speak Soon: 2014 in Review”

And here are links to my year ender playlists from 2013 and 2012. 

What do you know about hope?

There are so many things I have been aching to share about my experiences with the Buhay Makulay Children’s Project this year. Each activity with the children leaves me in awe – of the resiliency of every Filipino child I’ve met, the gift of service so many kind hearts are willing to provide, but most of all of the steadfastness of God. I am bursting with stories, anecdotes, personal revelations. But I fail to carve out time to write them out, to find the right words that will sustain the power of the things I’ve seen, heard and learned.

In the past eight months alone, we’ve worked with thousands of children and hundreds of volunteers in five different communities, in as many different provinces of the Philippines. There are three more communities and hundreds more children lined up for the rest of the year. This is all in celebration of the eight years we’ve been facilitating the Children’s Fair for underserved communities. Even more than that, this is all in celebration of the enduring hope we have in God. Buhay Makulay’s vision remains: children at risk transformed into children of hope.

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Two girls eating their lunch in front of one of our three hope trees. Children’s Fair in Calauan, Laguna. August 23, 2014. 

Yesterday’s Children’s Fair in Calauan, Laguna, stands out for many reasons. Here are a few: We had the boldness (and spiritual whisper) to invite 1,500 children to the fair. (The most we’ve ever done was 500, and that felt like a reach!) Unlike some earlier locations this year, I have a professional and relational history with the community, and feel deeply invested in their growth. Close to the fair day, we also felt stalled by fences in our flow of finances and the lean-ness of our confirmed team of volunteers. The night before the fair, I was still greatly overwhelmed by the basic idea of managing thousands of people. And on a very personal note, I’ve been going through some private hurdles that have made the season coming up to the actual fair more challenging perhaps than any other point in my life. It has made this present season the most stretching, breaking and disorienting of all.

And perhaps all of that’s what made yesterday even more meaningful. Since traveling to Leyte in May, and understanding the depth of the super typhoon’s impact on the locals’ everyday life and oncoming future, a giant shadow of a question has plagued me: What do you know about hope, Tanya? What do you really know about hope?

The people I had met in Leyte survived a type of devastation I have never witnessed before. To hear of it makes your heart ache and tremble. But still it’s nothing compared to being the very person that has to walk through the devastation, one persistently painful inch at at time. And thus I questioned, what did I even know about hope? Why am I the person called to share this message?

And of course I know hope. I carry hope so preciously in my heart. But I wondered if the heart that carries it has been challenged enough. How would I take the punches, if the devastation had come knocking on my door and not Leyte’s, or Iloilio’s, or Cebu’s? I can’t say.

So once again, in preparation for speaking to 1,500 children yesterday about this very hope that they should carry in their own hearts, I found myself facing this question head on. What do I know about hope? I continue to search my heart. I continue to search God’s.

One thing is certain – that I am the one learning from each time I take the microphone to greet the children at our Children’s Fairs. Majority of the thousands of kids who’ve come to us, have walked (not ridden a car or train) from their homes, in their best (but worn or hand me down) clothes, through dusty streets, days after their last shower, on much less than full stomachs to get where they sit in front of me. That journey alone is one of hope.

More of this in future posts. Stay tuned, speak soon.

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Me at the microphone, sharing stories with 500 children in Leyte. Children’s Fair. May, 2014. 

 

 

6 nuggets of life-wisdom from my 4th grade Sunday School students

Every Sunday at 10:15 am, I walk over to the room with a purple door to see my Sunday school class of 4th graders. For the next hour and a half, we talk, tell stories, make crafts, play games. We talk about the Bible, about Jesus, and about what it means to follow God in their own lives today.

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When I started teaching Sunday school for the first time, almost two years ago; it took a bit of time for me to figure out how to best relate to the 4th graders. How smart they are!

I’m still learning. And a handful of nine and ten-year old kids sure can teach you many things. They continue to surprise me with their thoughts, their imagination, and the way the world looks in their eyes. (Their world is, in many ways, profoundly different from the world I grew up in. Sometimes I am astounded. Read: One of the most important things you need to take on a camping trip to survive is your iPad!??)

Still each week, I am often left fascinated by the wonderful ways these little humans are just themselves.

 

“Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.”  Exodus 23:2

 

Yesterday, after storytelling and discussion about a Bible story, we did a craft that the kids got to do in pairs. They were to come up with slogans that would encourage them to do do what is right, especially when the wrong choice is the easy choice. The example we gave them was straight out of our curriculum, ” Be wise about what you see with their eyes.”  We encouraged them to rhyme, but more importantly to make their work applicable in their own lives.

After much thought and animated, even heated, discussions, each pair of students came up with some fantastic nuggets of wisdom. Catchier and spunkier than I could’ve ever come up with at their age.

Meet my fourth graders!

1. If you litter, your Future will be bitter. 

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2. Don’t be a fool and don’t cheat in school. Challengers 3

 

 

 

3. Fear isn’t evil, it tells you what your Weakness is. 

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4. Loyalty makes your friends HAPPY. (And makes them trust you and God will be proud of you.)

 

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5. Know the fact before you act.

(In the context of placing the blame on others.)

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6. Honesty is the best way to be TRUSTWORTHY. 

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Pretty awesome, right?

 

Next stop: Daanbantayan!

It was the type of wind and rain that thrashed and screeched; completely dismantling the landscape. The typhoon pounded the town for five hours straight, after it hit land in the morning, reports say. Their houses, sources of livelihood, the ageing trees, power lines, communication lines – all yielded to the typhoon. The people were no strangers to heavy storms, but Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda cleaved a whole new kind of wound.

That was the 8th November 2013 in Daanbantayan.

This may have been the hardest hit region of Cebu, off to the north of the island and right on the coast.

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Photo from www.rappler.com

Five months later, we’re off to visit their children. We’re headed to Daanbantayan,  Cebu Island next weekend! And by we, I mean the Buhay Makulay Children’s Project Inc! I’m incredibly grateful for another opportunity to visit a community hit by Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan, and to bring my beloved Children’s Fair to a new island shore.

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Buhay Makulay Children’s Fair in 2012

We’re preparing for 100 children join us for an afternoon of creative play, music and learning! But as it is in these communities, there are not just one hundred, but hundreds of children we wish we could invite and share time with. Arrangements are finally taking shape, and for the first time, we may be working directly with a local government unit to bring our activities to the children. Every day we get more and more excited!

I’m mulling over an idea for a mural the kids can work on, with the same approach as we did in Roxas City in January. If you’ve got any ideas make sure to pass them on!

Where once was thrashing and screeching, we hope to hear laughter and see dancing.

Speak soon,

T

 

P.S.  DONATE? If you’d like to share with these children in Cebu, or the hundreds of children we will play with as we go on the road this year, please consider making a donation in cash or kind. Sponsor one child at Php800/20USD/18euro. 

Deposits can be made directly to the following account: Buhay Makulay Children’s Project Inc., acct number 0041-0339-24, BPI.

 Donations in cash or kind may be dropped of at the Union Church of Manila, c/o Len Aritao. Corner Rada and Legazpi Sts. Legazpi Village, Makati.

Find the Buhay Makulay Children’s Project Inc. on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to stay posted.

 

Data on typhoon sourced from: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/524437/5-hours-of-yolanda-pounding-daanbantayan-town