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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Being a Dad who Leads

Well, the situation in Olongapo seems to have turned into an episode of Eastenders. As I sit here writing this my mind is a whirlwind of endless possible outcomes for the two boys. It’s hard sometimes to know exactly when to draw the line and to say enough is enough. Ever the eternal optimist (as far as evangelism goes) I tend to keep hoping and hoping and hoping…that things will turn around.

Let me bring you up to speed. Last weekend I was informed by Zee that neither of the boys had attended the church due to having “overslept” (the service is pretty early starting at 8 something.) They had however somehow ended up at the Catholic church having attended a cult church (Iglesia Ni Cristo) several weeks before. How this has happened is beyond me as everything was in place for them to attend a Bible believing Christian Church. There was some confusion over dress codes and the boys thinking that Grandma couldn’t attend a “born again” church because she isn’t “born again.” Hopefully these issues have now been resolved.

The boys visited Zee later last Sunday with Simon who has very recently been released from rehab. They cheerfully informed her that Simon had been staying at the house with them which is against the rules. More worryingly though they informed her that Grandma had left the house again and was not coming to collect the money they needed for food for the week. So they didn’t have any food.

Reflecting on the situation I decided that the only sensible option was to go and find out exactly what was going on and to lay down the law for the second time in 3 weeks. Grandma confirmed that she no longer wanted to reside at the house and preferred to sleep on the street as she had been doing before. The root of the problem; she wanted to be able to house various members of her extended family and was upset that this wasn’t allowed. I visited the two boys with the local social worker from the Youth Centre and after a long discussion, made it really clear that they are on their last warning due to various things I had heard.

The problem now; the two boys have clearly demonstrated that they are not responsible enough to live unsupervised in the house and they really need a male mentor to live with them and provide oversight. I have made an appeal with my Olongapo contacts and hope and pray that someone will see it as a ministry opportunity (and of course a chance for free lodgings.) If no one comes forward and the boys continue to misbehave the project will likely come to a sharp conclusion and both boys will be back on the street, which probably means back to the solvents as they have no source of income and will not be able to fund themselves at school. This really would be a disastrous end, so please pray.

I have had a pretty frustrating week in general. I finally decided to go and collect my parcel, sent from the UK, from the Central Post Office where it has been languishing since August accumulating various storage charges because no one seemed to know where this mysterious “Central Post Office” was located.

A few days ago I set off in the vague general direction thinking I would “ask someone” when I got closer. Having been here for some time I should definitely have known better as you can ask 4 Filipinos for directions and they will confidently send you in 4 different directions. This is exactly what happened so I found myself in the unfortunate position of having to weigh up the various conflicting pieces of information based on how “reliable” a person looked.

Eventually after travelling on the MRT (Metro Rail Transit) for a few stops I found a Jeepney (metal bus) to take me the rest of the way. The MRT which travels in a straight line along a track, is an interesting phenomenon as there are far more people trying to travel on it at all times of the day and night than can possibly fit, resulting in people being “bent” to fit inside. If you watch it from a distance you can often see peoples’ faces and limbs literally squashed against the windows as about three times the safe number of people have piled into a carriage. Even more amusing is that usually the carriage next door is virtually empty as for some reason everyone has headed for the same one. One day the MRT overshot the last station heading out onto the street. Commuters and pedestrians rushed to see what had happened, most of them more concerned with taking “selfies” and posting them to facebook than anything else. It was like they just couldn’t believe that what had happened was even possible!

This short video clip is similar to what happens on the MRT here in Manila, although the guards don’t do that!

Anyway, so I am on the Jeepney hoping that I am heading for the CPO and decide I will double check with the driver that he knows where I want to go. I ask him but he tells me to wait, thinking this means he doesn’t know I decide to ask the other passengers who unfortunately ask the driver again. He is understandably irritated by this and mutters under his breath that I am “naughty,” thinking that I don’t understand, until I respond “not really” and he looks very embarrassed. The kind old man does a detour from his prescribed route and drops me right outside the CPO, I feel obliged to tip him but can’t find any change so give him 100 pesos (£1.40) which makes his day.

I enter the CPO and head for desk number 37. As expected there are far too many staff to deal with the few customers. They can’t find my parcel and one by one go searching for it before giving up and handing it to someone else to continue. After 15 minutes or so they find it and start completing a lo-ot of, I’m sure unnecessary, paperwork before I can leave. I take the opportunity to ask the woman if they can’t re-deliver the parcel next time as it’s taken me over an hour to get to them and cost me more than the parcel is worth (with the £1.40 storage charge.) She informs me that they don’t deliver parcels and its only then that I realise that they hadn’t tried to deliver it at all.

I ask her why they can’t deliver small parcels if they are going to the address anyway to deliver the notice saying that there is a parcel one hour away. She tells me that it is policy but that they do deliver books. This stops me in my tracks as I know that my parcel is in fact a book and is clearly marked as such. I ask her why they haven’t delivered my parcel as it is a book and she says that she will make sure that next time I get a parcel they deliver it to my house. I’m totally bemused by this point as with millions of customers how can this woman possibly make a promise like that to one individual customer unless she’s planning to devote herself to this task 24/7 for the foreseeable just in case I happen to get another parcel! I guess it’s more likely that she’s just saying it to pacify me. I tell her that I will not be requesting any further parcels from the UK as its all too much hassle.

Leaving the CPO for the long journey home I decide to open my parcel to find it is a single book by John Macarthur entitled “Being a Dad who Leads.” …..very useful I’m sure.