From the monthly archives:

November 2003

Twelve New Harter Children!!!

by Original Author on November 13, 2003

Originally posted by Betty Jo Harter

Of course I keep thinking every time we get another new child that, “this is it, I don’t believe I can physically handle anymore”. How well I know better than to put limits on God who not only calls us to obedience but supplies all we need for the task at hand. Once again, He has!

As most of you know I opened a children’s home in the apartment behind our clinic Beauty for Ashes. This home began to fill up with children for one reason or another who could not return to their home. Some of the parents were dead, some of the children we found begging on the streets, and Rex who was supposed to die a year ago having developed end stage kidney failure from complications of severe malnutrition.

I had capable loving caregivers for the children, Joy and John-john. I had enrolled them in a small Christian school. Most of them had never been to school. The children were very well behaved, helpful in all their chores and attended the church every Sunday. The children always ran to meet me when I arrived at the clinic chanting, “Mom Betty, Mom Betty!”, with a lot of hugs and climbing all over me.

Sounds perfect? It wasn’t, because they still were not part of a permanent family, a real Mom and Dad, brothers and sisters. The Sunday of Mother’s Day at church, I was so burdened down because I looked at their little faces and knew that they had lost their Mom through death, abandonment, or abuse. They would look longingly at our large family of children, kiss me and say “Goodbye, Mom Betty” as they returned to the children’s home.

I watched this week after week and became so burdened, I knew I could not look at them again until I brought them into our home and our family and became truly “their” Mama. I prayed and thought on it for two more months. I knew what a tremendous amount of work and time the extra children would be to the already twenty-two we had. I knew that once I decided to move them here that would be no changing my mind. You can’t just keep changing children from one place to another and expect them to function with any degree of stability and normalcy.

I became convinced that it was the right thing to do before the Lord and I just did it. I went over to the clinic one evening during their devotion and told them my feelings and asked them theirs. And of course they jumped, shouted, giggled, jumped all over me, which was one of the things I was so concerned about because my osteoporoses is bad and they are so strong.

They are all here now, and what a difference they have made in our already large family. The noise level has risen unbelievably. I just thought it was noisy before. “Hilom!” (Quiet!), “Saba na.” (Too noisy). You’ll hear us repeating over and over during a day. So many changes. We now eat in three shifts. We had just made a table made for twenty-two and of course it’s obsolete. The laundry is enormous! Home school? Well, as of this date, I have not fallen into a good pattern. The “original” children are proceeding mostly on their own with supervision. The new ones are trying to learn English so we can communicate in order to start school with them. I keep praying for the Lord’s return so I won’t have to do all this home schooling stuff!

On a happier note, truly, truly the joy of watching them grow spiritually erases any extra toils that it has brought to my physical body. The children realize that I just give out and have to go to my room to nap a couple of times during the day. They try and conduct their playtime quietly during those times. Then I’m up and ready to meet the challenge again.

Our devotional times every evening are so sweet. We’ve thought of dividing it into two sessions nightly because of different ages. There are ten children of the thirty-four under two years of age, however we enjoy all our singing together and reading the scripture together. The babies do sing to the top of their lungs. We sing in Cebuano and English. Another advantage of having devotions in one group is the training it allows us to do for church “sitting”. I have to laugh now at myself and how difficult I used to think it was to get children ready for church, making sure everyone had their shoes and then to keep everyone focused (especially me) on worship when you finally arrived. I would never have believed I would be getting this many children ready, going to the bathroom before you get to service, in the car, seated and listening to the preaching. Believe me anything is possible if the Lord is in the matter. I think of the scripture often, if we have enough faith, the mountains will be removed; I have witnessed many mountains being removed every Sunday morning!

The greatest joy of all has been to witness four of them come before the congregation acknowledges their belief in Jesus who died for their sins, and see them arise out of the liquid grave of baptism beaming from ear to ear. We did the right thing you know, bringing these children home. As most of you know there were ten children in the children’s home. I said, we now have twelve more, we do. Twins, a boy and girl, twenty-two months old.
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Dr. Bersaldo, our resident doctor and brother in Christ

I have had a burden and vision since opening the clinic to have a doctor on staff so that we could expand our programs. That prayer request has been answered. Thank the Lord, he will be on staff the first week of December.

Now a little history behind his decision to come.

Last March, the Mayor of a community four hours drive from Governor Generoso, contacted the clinic by telephone. He visited us twice and then asked if we would conduct a seminar in his place for the doctor of the small hospital there and the officers of his cabinet. It seems that during the Christmas festivities in his areas that he became more troubled about all the malnourished children. He heard about the clinic and thought perhaps if we could hold an afternoon seminar at their place we could teach them what we do. I explained to the Mayor that it would be impossible for us to train them in an afternoon and the consequences of their proceeding without any knowledge would be risky for the children and a great deal of liability on them. The government wouldn’t even treat these children because they say “they will die anyway”.

I did encourage him that we would, at his convenience at Beauty for Ashes, have them come and do “hands-on-training”. I assured him we would help him any we could. They came, Mayor Jerry, Dr. Reed Bersaldo and several of the Mayor’s staff. They arrived late one evening because of the long drive it took after work hours. Gus and Chris were at the clinic that evening to await their arrival. I stayed home trying to prepare for the seminar the next day. That evening, Dr. Reed (as we call him), as well as the others were overwhelmed with the family type atmosphere and love that our staff showed the children.

The next morning, I met the group and told them how humbled we were that they would want to learn from us and assured them that the Lord had given us wonderful experience and understanding on how to treat malnutrition, but for them to be confident that many, many miracles had taken place that could only be attributed to God’s mercy and grace. That no glory could be taken for ourselves, we felt so totally helpless without Him. We had them even go to the kitchen and help prepare the different formulas for nourishment.

At the end of the session, they realized, as I felt they would, that it would be impossible right now for them to treat children themselves. However, Dr. Reed became so interested in what we believe concerning the scripture. During the day of seminar he shared his discontent with religious organizations. He was a Roman Catholic that many “Christian Group” had tried to convert. He became disillusioned with their teaching. His heart told him there was something more and he wanted to talk further with Gus.

After so many discussions, church visits, and much prayer, Brother Reed united with Providence Primitive Baptist Church and was baptized. What a sweet testimony he gave in his search for the truth. I felt the first time he entered the clinic that he may be the doctor I had prayed for, daring not to be too anxious. Two weeks ago when he came to church he mentioned that he may be looking for another position. It seems that he was working from a contract that was due to be up the first week of December. I immediately pulled him aside and told him I would like to talk to him about coming to work at the clinic and what my purpose would be. He grinned with his infectious grin. He’s such a good looking 29 years old that smiles all the time. He said, “Yes, I’ve considered talking to you about that because I love your program and had so many ideas on how we could expand.” I told him that my main purpose in expanding would be to get deep into the tribal regions in the jungle on a regular schedule for primary health care teaching and treating of patients. I have become so burdened with wanting to get into the regions where we get the most children and try to teach preventative measures so that the children will not get in the severe condition of malnutrition. Other ideas would be to “make” a mobile unit, drive into the interior and stay a few days in a tribe, do immunizations, bring back the severely malnourished and those children with pneumonia, etc. I also want to work with the Department of Health to hold seminars in the different barrios. We are already doing as many as physically possible, but he would help us to expand even more, and with more authority.

I asked him to think about it, and above all pray about it and take his time to give us an answer when he was very sure. He said that he would tell me the following Sunday which was last Sunday night. Oh, how I wondered all week what his answer would be. On one hand I felt he may not come knowing the need for a doctor all over the Philippines and knowing our budget. A doctor in the Philippines on an average makes 12,000.00 pesos a month ($240.00 a month). On the other hand, I knew his desire to help the same children we want to help and even more than this he wants the blessing of being together, working together with so many members in our church. He wants to deepen his spiritual life. How much more wonderful could it get?

Last Sunday service came and I wondered, perhaps he won’t even show-up. He did, and the answer was YES! Please thank the Lord for us, especially for our children. I will be writing more of our experiences in outreach when he joins us in December. I do know the month of December we plan to hold free check-ups and immunizations for many, many children we can.

God bless you for your support, encouragement and prayers.

Mom Betty
Photo of the New Harter’s ChildrenPhoto of Dr. Reed Bersaldo

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Oh! The Children, The Children…

by Original Author on November 13, 2003

Originally posted by Betty Jo Harter

I know I need to keep you aware of the blessings and miracles we have seen in over 170 children now. The pictures before and after are the best way. I apologize for not posting them regularly.

How could we ever become discouraged with our ministry at Beauty for Ashes when the living proofs of God’s blessings are before our eyes. The children come from the different region of Mindanao. Mainly from the forest areas high on a mountain. Many hours walk with no roads. Our dedicated staffs do everything necessary to bring them down the mountain with still another 3 to 5 hours travel to the clinic, Beauty for Ashes.

I do hope and pray that one day we can open and staff more clinics in strategic areas for these children so that they will not be so far from their treatment. They normally have to stay anywhere from 30 to 60 days in the clinic for treatment. During this time they and their “bantays” (watchers) get very lonesome from their families.

Please continue to pray for us that our Lord will continue to bless us to serve the children dying here in the Philippines from malnutrition. There are no other clinics that will do what we do and there are yet children dying everyday.

I am including before and after photographs of 2 children recently treated in the clinic.

Mom Betty
Before and after photos of Julie Mae and Valenten

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