After saying goodbye to Galuh and my Compassion Indonesia hosts, I flew overnight to the Manila. Philippines airport where I caught another flight to the island of Cebu. When I go to the airport Careen and her family were there to meet me!
Careen took me to her boarding house that she shares with her sister Jami. The room that they rent is about the size of two beds. (can you tell pink is their favorite color? : )They can’t cook in their room, so they eat most meals from the street vendors.
Next we walked over to the university where Careen had taken classes. She had to get special permission to show us around, but our visit was approved and we got to see all of the places where she had taken classes, studied, and hung out with friends.
Aside from my excitement in just spending time with Careen and her family, it was so neat to get to see the places where she had spent the last 5 years of her life.
After our tour of the campus it was time to head to Toledo City, the town where Careen grew up, and her family still lives. We hoped in a van-bus, and 90 minutes later we arrived.
I had been planning on staying at a hotel, but when I had searched local hotels, I could not find one with online booking. So, I just decided to go, trusting that some hotel would have space for me. Sure enough when we got there Carmen, Careen’s mom, took me to one of the local hotels where her friends worked. They had space for me and I moved my stuff into a beautiful room with AC and a private bath.
After dropping my stuff, Careen’s family took me out to the local fast food restaurant. We ate fried chicken and rice, which I learned was a very popular food in that area. We had a good time talking and visiting over the meal. I also got to learn how to eat Philippine style - silverware not needed. We used our hands to scoop up the rice and meat and dip it in a delicious sauce.
After eating they walked me back to my hotel, and I unpacked a little and tried to get ready for the next day.
Ever since I sponsored Careen I hoped and dreamed that this day would come, that I would get to travel and see her graduate and meet her family. As she approached the time of her graduation I tried to think of what would be the best way to honor her hard work and the commitment that had helped her achieve her dreams. I realized that I wanted to sponsor another child from her project and pass on the legacy to a new child.
A year before I headed to the Philippines I sponsored then 7 year old Mary Joy.
The next day I would be traveling to the project and meeting Mary Joy for the first time. I to say I was excited was an understatement….