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Update posted 11.27.2010

Things are winding up for what is probably our busiest month of the year. Pasko (Christmas) is a huge deal in Filipino culture, and I've written before about the unique way it is celebrated here. And as I have said, Filipinos excel at parties, and it's something we can use to build relationships with the community and find opportunity to share the love of God with them. We also have a staff party, of course, and the party in Malikongkong, which I must admit is the one I am most excited for. We've decided to bring Roldan with us this time, as he did well when we went hiking at park in the mountains recently, and perhaps we can start visiting the tribes regularly like we used to now that he is such an active toddler and isn't sick nearly so often as he used to be. Cathy has been busy with our year-end reports to people sponsoring students, and several new students have sponsors. Our current sponsorship program is a new approach that grew out of a desire to respond to the needs we saw in the lives of older children in Tabitha: Food For Life, and a bit different from our aid to college students in the past. We have seen so many elementary students struggle to remain in school, or just give up, because although the public schools are free, they have many associated costs nonetheless. Families must be able to pay for the required school uniforms, transportation costs, meals, school supplies, and sometimes field trips - add to that many students paying for tutors in order to get help with subjects challenging to them, and occasionally teachers who will fine students a peso each time they are caught speaking their own language, usually Bisaya, rather than the national language which is Filipino, closely based on Tagalog. Students in our sponsorship program are ones we have found dedicated sponsors for, a process that involves case studies of their children and their families. The sponsorship covers all of these associated costs of schooling, and for our part we (especially Cathy) spend considerable time following up with the students to see how they are doing in school and at home, reviewing their report cards, and of course talking and praying with them and their parents. The sponsored students, as with Tabitha, also have tutoring provided by our staff and volunteers, many of which are young Filipinos who grew up in Agdao and have been reached with the Gospel through HFTN Philippines and our House of Jubilee church.
Our support letter from earlier in the year can still be downloaded here, and we also have a color brochure here. Some of the info is outdated but they are still useful.

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