From the monthly archives:

March 2002

Update on the latest Harter arrivals

by Original Author on March 19, 2002

Originally posted by Betty Jo Harter

I don’t know another way to hurriedly bring you up to date on our ever-growing family except to tell you of the latest new additions in order of their arrival!

Isaac – Isaac was born October 19, 2001. Months before he was born a couple in one of our fellowships contacted us and asked us if we would adopt their child when he was born. We, of course, questioned the circumstances, wondering why a wonderful couple would give up their child. Their answer was the same as we’ve heard before. Because, this was the fourth child and they could not afford to feed it or send him to school. Their oldest child could only attend school occasionally, and then he has to walk two hours just to get to the main road.

I reluctantly said I would pray about it but assured them that the best thing for the baby was for them to keep him. They were very intense in making me understand that they would try to find someone else if we would not adopt him. They believed that the Lord intended for us to raise their child. We told them the same thing we’ve told everyone that has approached us that we would do the best we could with the understanding of two things; (1) We would be very pleased if they would change their mind; (2) We would raise them with the understanding that we would prepare him for living in his Filipino culture and to return to his original province and help their family. These two things being agreed upon, we waited until the delivery.

Isaac was born in the evening. I stayed with the mother, Arlene during labor and delivery. The moment he was born, I carried him to be weighed and bathed and quickly took him to my room. Immediately from birth Isaac had slight seizures on his left side. The pediatrician and family tried to reason to me that it was nothing to worry about. I dressed him the next morning and knocked at the mother’s door. I pleaded with her to take the baby home with her. She would not. I paid the hospital bill and brought Isaac home to everyone. Oh, I failed to mention Gus was in the United States preaching. He had already agreed to take the baby, however he did not see him until he arrived from the United States six weeks later.

I wish the story ended there but is doesn’t. The mother and dad came two weeks later to sign the paper surrendering custody. Once again I had Isaac dressed and his bag packed and the children and I agreed tearfully to try to persuade the mother to take him home. The whole family arrived at our home. At the same time, the mother and dad were to sign papers to give up the baby. I could not consider this any longer as an option. I told them that I would give them money to feed the baby for a year and I insisted they take him home. I tore up the custody papers in front of them. The children and I gathered around Isaac and kissed him goodbye. Now, only slightly, I felt the heart of a mother giving up her baby. I had bonded and loved Isaac as my own.

Once again, I wished the story ended there. It doesn’t. Two weeks later Arlene called me crying. Isaac was bleeding everywhere. His mouth, his eyes, his head, his skin. What should she do? I told her I would be there within the two hours it would take to drive. When I arrived I sobbed when I saw him. He immediately knew me. I put them in the car, held Isaac close to my heart and prayed as we drove back to the emergency room in Davao. What happened to this precious healthy looking baby?

After many tests and an extended stay in ICU, the doctor diagnosed Isaac with a bleeding disease called ITP. The many transfusion, steroids and gammaglobulin brought him around. We were informed by the hematologist that Isaac would have to be monitored for his platelet count every two weeks and then once a month, until he is nine months old. We were told that this could be a prelude to leukemia. They also attributed the seizures to perhaps bleeding in the brain from ITP.

The inevitable was of course that they asked us to please agree once again to raise him because of the extended medical treatment they could not provide. And if they could the facilities were hours away from their mountain home. Once again we learned a lesson of Gods providential care of his children. He intended for Isaac to be ours for his care, and we would not listen the first time!

Once again the story doesn’t end there. The seizures continued to get worse. After an EEG and Ultra Sound of the brain, he was diagnosed by the neurologist with epilepsy. We give him phenabarbutol, increasing now to the maximum dosage to stop the lack of control he has with his body. I have had the birth mom to come on several weekends and spend the time with Isaac. She comes, plays and sleeps with him, kisses him goodbye and both of us hug and cry. I try to reassure her that this baby is special having two moms that love him.

Robert – Robert is two and one half years old. We’ve told the story over and over about how I found our four years old Angel by knocking on doors in Davao. Angel had a brother Robert, in the government orphanage. Because the birth father was abusive and the mother with a critical case of TB, Robert was put in the orphanage for care. Angel in the clinic for malnourishment and TB meningitis. As you know, the mother died leaving these two orphaned. After bringing Angel to our home the orphanage called and wanted us to take Robert. Of course I said yes so that two children could be raised together. And so Robert came bounding in (literally) into our home. He is a beautiful dark child with unimaginable energy mixed with scheming. I just thought before that I had a lot to do. Once again this child came while Gus was in the States. Now he had two new arrivals to meet on his return home.

Angeline – Angeline is two and one half years old and blind. She was nursed back to health at our clinic. When we found her she was in a filthy shack, and sleeping on the dirt floor in a bed of ants. She was completely unattended always. If the father ever came home he was too drunk to know she was there. Her little head was so infected with ants. We shaved her head, applied medicated dressing and proceeded to tend to her severe malnourishment. She was so thin. It appeared you could see through her. She could not sit, stand, walk or speak. The Lord as many times before gave the Staff the wisdom to care for her physical and spiritual needs, they were so many. When it came time for her to return home, none of the extended family or dad would agree to take her. The grand parents who were taking care of other grand children said she left a bad odor in the house. I then had the decision of whether to send her to the government orphanage or bring her home as one of our own to love her and try to restore to her some of her dignity. Of course, I chose the latter. She is a delight. She can now sit, stand and walk with assistance. As so with God’s grace, we took her to an ophthalmologist who told us that he believes maybe her right eye can be saved with a cornea transplant. It appears she sees shadows. Another miracle for us to rejoice in!

Elizabeth and Alexis – Eight years and three years old. The government agency called one Friday, a month ago, and said that they had two children surrendered to Bantay Bata, the government orphanage. They were begging on the streets. “Street children” they are called. The officials at the orphanage said that their facility was filled. Would the Harter’s please take them? Gus and I turned to each other and remarked that we never felt after the first three adopted children that we could handle one more. Here we are many more than that and we are still surviving. Why not?

The Bantay Bata brought Elizabeth and Alexis to the clinic for us to pick them up. I don’t know what I expected, but it was worse than I imagined. Raggedy, dirty, “wild looking”, full of lice crawling in their hair. What a sight! After loving them and cuddling them unconditionally, we hurried to try and cure their many physical challenges. The first day after arriving to our home we realized we would have to save the “formal” introduction to the rest of their brothers and sisters until they had quit screaming, kicking, biting and dragging themselves on the floor! We managed to bed them down for the night and awake the next day with another new round of challenges.

As I mentioned Elizabeth and Alexis had been on the street for their every sustenance. They didn’t know anything else so they got up bright and early to beg form us. They had their little hands outstretched to us all day begging and so surprised that we would not quickly surrender our pesos to them. Since we could not speak the same language we would put our hands in the air surrendering that we had nothing. Their faces were though they were in despair. Later on we realized they were thinking “how will we buy our food today?” A few moments later we knew what they were thinking.

We have a nice stone patio in back of the house, and Hope put her three parakeets in their cage on a table to bask in the sun. We heard a scream as one of our children ran in to tell us “Come, come”. When we all flew around the corner-slid open the door we were aghast at the scene. Alexis had “de-feathered” one of the parakeets, snapped off the head of one, and was reaching for the third one. He was going to cook them for supper! It all seemed quite simple. He begged and got no pesos. He thought we had chicken in the cage to be eaten later as is the Filipino custom. As we gathered all our children together to explain that this was a perfectly understandable custom I thought to myself, “Is this another blessing from God (these two new children), or are we being heavenly disciplined from God for every wrong we’ve ever done”? We quickly learned it is indeed one of the most precious gifts God has given us to this date.

It was the same afternoon that Gus and I realized that this Elizabeth was the little girl we often gave money to while she was on the streets. Her eyes were always haunting. She embodied to us in her little frame all the street children in the Philippines. Our hearts would go out to her every time we saw her. We would often say to ourselves after seeing her begging, “Oh, if we could only take you home” and of course… God gave her to us through mysterious ways. This was our child when we gave to her on the streets. How can anyone doubt the amazing providence in our lives?

Katie and Kelly – twin girls, one and one half years old. You know them better from the picturetrails or from the pictures Gus showed in the States in October. They were severely; critically malnourished when first brought to the original clinic a year and one half ago. We did everything we could to help the family to provide the necessities for these fragile little girls to survive. It soon became obvious that the parents were not going to take care of them. They spent a year out of a year and one half of their lives in the clinic. As most babies are beginning to crawl, turn over, jabber, recognize their surrounding, etc., these children were always surrounded with medical equipment, oxygen tubes and long stay in ICU. Five times we nurtured them to a good degree of health (considering they had TB with extreme lung damage and their bodies racked with malnutrition) and yet five times they returned to the clinic or ICU because they were not fed by the parents and were in a weakened condition. The children social welfare department, knowing the case, decided that enough was enough. When they informed the parents they could not keep them any longer the parents requested that we keep them, instead of the government orphanage. We had already become very attached because of feeling great responsibility toward their care. The parents knew of our concern for them and their babies. It wasn’t a question of did we have a room for one more, but how about two more in need of special care? We didn’t hesitate, but realized we were already over the limit we could physically care for, but the Lord always make it seem a though we have not added anymore. That’s grace!

Taking the twins has not been without difficulty adjusting. They can now sit up without being propped up. They have the appearance of a little tummy for the first time. We feed them five times a day. We are doing therapy on their fragile legs because of their tight muscles. As of now they can only sit in a frog like position. They have begun to make funny faces and demand our attention to watch.

Rue Liza – is fifteen years old. She has been a faithful attendee of our church here at our home since we constituted. We found out after a few Sunday s that she had no one to care for her but an elderly grandmother who was disabled. She had dropped out of school because her mother promised to take her to her home in Cebu and then, told later Rue Liza that she never really intended to do so. Once you drop out of school here during the school year you are not allowed to attend, or make up that grade, you are required to wait until the next year and repeat the grade.

Observing Rue Liza faithfulness to worship (walking many miles to attend services) her longing for school, and the circumstance of her life, we invited her to stay with us. She reluctantly agreed not wanting to over burden us. She hasn’t burdened us. She has added to our lives with the passion for her new school, her love of art, and mostly her love of God.

Well now you’ve read the latest portrait of our “quiver”. How many books would it take to hold the many challenges and joy we’ve experienced since all their arrivals? We now have twenty-three children under our umbrella at home, eight under four years old, four workers and Gus and I. Twenty-nine as of this date. We sincerely “most of the time”, are overwhelmed with joy at all the blessings showered on us all the day of our lives. We have missed out on nothing the world offers. We look forward to each day as to how we can experience the grace God has available to us this day.

How many more children will we adopt? I don’t know. Every time the Lord brings an abandoned child in my path I have a decision to make. Will I help them or not? As of now, I don’t have a building for our orphanage. We will one day. Until then, I cannot bring them in my home, treat them as our own, encourage them with new siblings, and then turn around when the building is built and tell them they can no longer be a part of our family, that they will have to live in the orphanage. I will feel free to do that when our facility is built and our staff ready to receive children as their family. We’re not there yet. We have found the Lord to have perfect timing in our lives.

I know one thing for certain; the Lord does not need me for anything. I need him! I thank God for your concern and prayers. I can feel them.

Mom Harter
Photo of The Harter Family

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News from the Quiver

by Original Author on March 14, 2002

Originally posted by Beatriz Harter

On Monday the 4th, 2002 at 5:00 A.M. Hopes watch alarm came on. It was like any other morning until 5:15, when Rue Liza felt her bed shaking. She sat up, looked around and realized what was happening. She says “earthquake”, in a alarming voice. Laura realizes what is happening and says “Its an earthquake”, in a stronger tone. I waked upon time to hear Laura say earthquake! I set up and also realized what was happening. My bed was shaking and the blinds were swinging back and forth. I looked around and in a mild voice said “Oh my God” Robert had slept in Laura’s bed because the little girls, whom he usually slept with were all sick with something they got from the swimming pool. Laura looked at me and asked, “Do you want me to take Robert?” I thought for a second and said “Yeah!”

I grabbed my glasses and looked through the house and up the stairs as fast as I could. I felt like I could hardly walk because my knees were so wobbly. I don’t know how I ever made it, but I did. I saw Hope go into Mom and Dad’s room, so I knew that she would help Mom and Dad with the babies. I went to the boy’s room and they were already moving around trying to figure it out what was happening. I said, “Boys, its an earthquake! Hurry downstairs and go outside”. I then went to see about the little girls. Joanna was crying, Angel and her were both crying. I quickly took Angel from Joanna to carry her downstairs. The little girls were also up. As calm as I could, trying not to make them afraid, I said, “Its okay, its an earthquake, just hurry downstairs and go outside”.

When I reached downstairs with Angel, all the kids were on the porch. Just as I stepped outside, the light bulb popped and scared everybody more. I was trying to look around to see who was still inside. When I turned, Hope had Lydia and Isaac. Mom had the twins, Kelly and Katie, and Daddy had John Mark. By the time everybody was outside, the earthquake was over, and it was about 5:20. We decided to stay up instead of going back to bed. It was almost time to get up anyway.

This has been the third earthquake since we have been living in the Philippines one year and six months. Out of the three this was the strongest with an intensity of 6.3. We didn’t have any visible damage around Davao City, for which we are thankful. Although there was as accident. A woman in her forties was asleep inside her small home when she was frightened by the earthquake, she was trying to reach her husband hand but was unable to. She so afraid, she went into cardiac arrest. She was rushed to the hospital, but two hours later she died. General Santos, which is town three hours away, had an intensity of 6.7 and buildings were damage.

Since the last earthquake we had talked about what to do during an earthquake. We read that during an earthquake, you go outside away from building and wires. If you’re inside you get under a table or something heavy. We had not had an earthquake during the night, so it was more scary than the other two. I think that we are more prepared in the way that we will know what to do if there is a stronger one. Mama thought that it was the end of world, except she didn’t hear the “trumpet blow”. Sherlyn one of our helpers cried, “Help us God”. We thank the Lord for keeping us safe and for watching over us.

Beatriz Harter

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Dave and Gema’s Engagement Celebration

March 12, 2002

Originally posted by Elder Gus HarterBrother Dave Bergman, a faithful brother of Bethany Church in Atlanta, Georgia at my invitation, came to visit in the Philippines several months back. I carried him to several of our churches and fellowships. He loved the Filipino churches. At the encouragement of Elder Constancio Tejada, he began a correspondence […]

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Update of the Work

March 12, 2002

Originally posted by Elder Gus HarterOur work is now divided into four different areas. My time and energy is consumed by the first two but the last two has stolen much of my heart and is a joy. (1) The planting and watering of churches all over the island; (2) The pastoring and building of […]

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Learning Tagalog

March 12, 2002

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter Because of the hectic pace of work since living in the Philippines I have never learned their language. In our churches they speak four entirely different dialects and there are seventy-six major dialects spoken in the Philippines. But over eighty percent of the country understand Tagalog, the language of […]

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The Harters Are Moving Again

March 9, 2002

Originally posted by Elder Gus HarterThis past week we receive a contract to purchase our home. We have enjoyed this location. It is near the center of town, a gated community with guards for safety and community play areas for children. However, because of the number of children in our home, twenty-three, it is just […]

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Recent Earthquake

March 9, 2002

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter This past Tuesday morning we were awakened by the most violent earthquake we have experienced since being in the Philippines. This is the third earthquake in our year and one half stay. The house was shaken somewhat violently and my whole family was awakened from a sound sleep about […]

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Vision for our Churches

March 8, 2002

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter Solomon stated a truth, “where there is no vision the people perish”. His insight had reference to building all the aspects of our life according to the revelation of the word of God. In the same verse he explained, “he that keepeth the law. (Another word for the Holy […]

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Experience of Conrado Quinto

March 1, 2002

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter Several months back while visiting in the Manila area, Elder Manning Briva brought a minister friend name Conrado Quinto to visit with me. His spirit was warm and receptive and I rejoice in his grasp of the message of grace. He was identified with the Landmark Baptist group. He […]

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