AUGUST & SEPTEMBER '03



I returned to the Philippines to continue with my missionary work on the 1st August, and it was not long before I was in full swing again.

Before I had finished unpacking, let alone taken a shower after the very long bus ride from Manila to Santiago. Santiago is an eight hour trip by
night and by day anything up to twelve hours! The first of two visitors arrived. A Sister was first to welcomed me “home”, and was very anxious to
catch up with all the news. She has just opened a new convent and is really desperate for help; not only financial, but she also wants help in
recruiting young ladies; in the hope that they will one day take the veil (too late for me I think).

I am not too sure if that recruiting is a task for me or not. However, I did agree to visit the convent and talk to the girls about life as a missionary;
and how God inspires us to continue day after day, in spite of all the difficulties and human frailties.

My second visitor was of cause Patricia. Patricia is like my shadow and has an amazing knack of knowing exactly where I am! Just like magic she
appears. She was clean and her eyes were beaming with the excitement of seeing me again. Needless to say we were both crying as we
embraced. I had missed her so much. Immediately I took her our and fed her, she is always in need of a good meal.

She told me that she was now getting her lunch everyday at the presbytery, on the condition that she has taken a bath!
Thank you Father for keeping on the good work.

That evening I went to Mass and was asked to attend the Choir rehearsal that evening. What do they say “No peace for the wicked”. It was great
to see the boys again, and it was not long before we had all sorts of plans for forthcoming events. The boys were keen to start having their
lessons again. We meet three times a week! I did say they were keen; and I am just as keen to teach them.
For me it is a great escape from the hard knocks of the mission.

We put our newly learned techniques into practice on the feast day of Our Lady of La Salette. The boys had worked so hard and I was so proud
of them. They were excellent, and we received many compliments on our performance;
which makes all the hours of hard work well worth the effort.

A couple of days later Patricia, who is a three, four or even five times a day visitor, asked if she could sell vegetables again. So that afternoon we
went out and bought her a basket and a purse. She had lost the last one; it is a big problem with schizophrenics they tend to put things down
and wander off. Or more often than not they are victims of crime and their things are stolen.
This is often the case with Patricia, I wish I had a pound for every toothbrush I had bought her; but that’s another story!

So the next morning at 6 a.m.!!!! Patricia arrived at my boarding house ready to sell.
I accompanied her to the market to buy fresh vegetables, and then sent her on her way. I went back to bed with my fingers crossed that she would
be okay. She returned a few hours later, not only with her capital in tact, but she also made a profit of 34 pesos.
Her face was beaming again, and that evening everyone in church knew that she had not lost her capital and that she had made money.

Patricia continues to come to my boarding house every morning to collect her basket and her capital, but thankfully I no longer have to accompany
her to buy the vegetables, she has learnt exactly what to buy and how to make the best profit; which she does most days!

The court hearing set for September was cancelled! And the next hearing date is set for November 6th Please God there will be no problem with
that one. At the moment we have two cases in the court, but because of delay after delay they have been going on for two-half years now.
Hopefully now that I am back they won’t delay too much, and justice will eventually be seen to be done.

When I left Santiago last time the social services had promised to re-house Merlinda and her six children.
However when I returned I found them in exactly the same condition as they were when I left for home.

Merlinda told me that the social services did not want to re-house her; they wanted to take the children into care; so she stopped visiting the office
for help. As any mother will tell you, if the choice is a house or your kids, there is no contest the kids win hands down; but why can’s she have
both as most of us do? So I took Merlinda to the social service office, only to find out that they had no record of her application! This goes to
confirm what Merlinda told me. It is so frustrating as I spent hours and hours getting all the documents that they needed last time.

Now I have to do it all over again! There are pictures of one of the children and the house they live in on the photo page.

Merlinda is also selling vegetables in an effort to feed her children; but of course I am making regular visits with bags of shopping,
to help her and the children.

While I was a way the eldest daughter who has a drug problem and prostitutes her self in order to finance it; had a baby. Sadly after only three
months the baby died. Merlinda says she has dreams that the baby is crying saying she is not happy where she is!
It turns out that the birth was never registered; neither was the death! In fact as far as everyone is concerned this poor little soul never existed!

The family are so poor (as you can see in the photo) that they could not afford to bury the baby; so they just took her to the cemetery themselves
and buried the baby beside another tomb. The grave is actually on the path way and is being walked on and driven over all the time!

I went to see a friend who runs a funeral home, and she said that we could re-bury the baby in a proper grave at no cost. There are some very
kind people out there. However we now have the problem of exhuming the body and as there is no record of birth or death!
It looks like we could have a few problems to deal with.

During the last few weeks I have looking for a house to rent, so that I could open as a half way house “Bahay Ng Pag-Asa”. I have seen one that
would be absolutely perfect, but very, very expensive and short of winning the lottery it’s out of the question. The second however is more likely
but as you will see from the photo’s needs a lot of work. The mother of the owner is a friend from church, and as she knows the work I am doing, I
am hoping that I will be able to rent it for next to nothing. I need to get a builder to take a look at it for me, and give me some idea as to the cost of
renovating it. If it is reasonable I will go ahead.

If I do manage to get the house I will make a permanent home for Patricia, so she no longer sleeps in the open. There is also self interest here, as
it will save me a fortune on toothbrushes if she lives with me! And hopefully I will also be able to offer Merlinda and the children a safe dry place.
Please pray that if it is God’s will the path will be made clear for us.

Mr Menesses was a tailor until he was attacked with a meat cleaver, and almost lost his arm. His daughter asked me for help with medicine and
hospital fees; which of course I did. I also took photos of the wounds and accompanied the family to the authorities to get the attacker arrested.
He was arrested and then absconded, but fortunately was recaptured. The case has been going on for several months, again justice seems to be
as hard to find as hen’s teeth! But we have another hearing at the end of October so hopefully we will be one step nearer finding those teeth!
Patricia
Merlinda
Merlinda and her six children
live here!
Bahay ng Pag-asa Came To Town
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