Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.
Looking back from last year, I know we would not have survived without the Grace of God. People sent us clothes for the winter, toys for Christmas. I asked for a coat, I got so many resources to retire my 10-year-old coat with shoulder pads. I found a work-from-home job, just as I asked for. Two jobs, in fact! How's that for a bonus?
I sent out a plea for Bears for Bicol, expecting a trickle from the few Fil-Ams I knew--just to piggy-back on my friend's cause. That plea snowballed into bears that filled our living room. And they were all in good condition--clean and cuddly. We would come home from mass and find bears and books at our front door. I would get calls from people to pick up bears here and there. Now I am dealing with a deluge of bears that will be sent out to Bicol.
Realizing all these resources and potential,I have been wanting to send the books to Philippine elementary schools in remote provinces where access is not easy. Inspired by Books for the Barrios, I knew that these books would need a guardian angel to be forwarded to Philippines, taken by boat, then by banca, then by truck or bus to a school that is only accessed by foot.
Praying for a connection, I chanced a show on ANC and found Synregeia.org--a group that laid down the foundation for encouraging Philippine local government units
to take responsibility,along with the community, in upgrading the basic education standards of their provice. In the show, Synergeia program coordinator Trissa Manalastas talked of teacher and parent training programs and how (because of synergy and cooperation with the LGU and DepEd) (PHP)P550 a YEAR can sponsor a child in remote Tawi-tawi, torn and displaced by war, to learn better reading and math skills.
I called Trissa and asked if she could bring books that I will send them to the schools. How wonderful that they had the access to move the books from Manila to the farthest province you can imagine, by air, by boat, by banca, and by truck, and then carried by 3 people up to the hilltops.
I am packing the books today. Books from friends, books I got in thrift stores or by standing outside of the county library when they do a clean-out. I realized the quality of these books when I know that many kids in the barrios have scarce reading materials--mostly on newsprint paper, mimeographed badly. These books I am packing are hard-bound, on white paper, with vivid colors, with dust covers. I am excited as I can actually feel the joy of the kids who will read these. I have come to meet with the UFAA (United Filipino Americans in Antioch) donated story books, chapter books, picture books.
When it is a win-win sitution, there is hardly any effort at all: connections are just made like miracles, the books will save landfill (and closet) space, and most of all, the books will be used by Filipino kids that badly need them. I can imagine the child examining the book cover, caressing the white pages, reading about other places, looking at big and colored pictures. . .
I am led to call my project: Candlelight Books, simply because there was a close-out sale on address labels with a candle design, that I can attach to all the books. Plus, the idea of the kids reading by candlelight, signifying how remote they are, is endearing to me. It remind me of hope and finding a way when we thought there was none.
You know it is God's gift when the timing is perfect, the people are generous and are so willing to cooperate, the end goal is simple but truthful and useful.
Candlelight Books is surely a gift from Him.
Maybe tomorrow, I will ask for a carpet for our living room because the floors are cold in the winter. And maybe 2 chairs for the sala, and maybe lamps. But really, I must not forget to ask for a new job or business for Ricky--may he find fulfillment and confidence in his work life. May this door that shut lead to a window of abundant possibilities.
(Hi to my mom and tita Evelyn, who read me all the time!)