From the monthly archives:

February 2005

Thomas

by Original Author on February 26, 2005

Originally posted by Betty Jo Harter

The phone rang first week of February 2005 at Beauty for Ashes. Will you please take and raise a 2 months old baby boy? We cannot feed him! Annie our social worker, covered the phone with her hand so the caller could not hear her and asked me if we could take the baby. Who is calling? Why do they want us to take the baby? “Unsa man?” What is the problem? “Please Annie tell them to come the next morning and we will talk”. I have learned not to commit myself until I know more facts unless it is a trusted social worker calling for help. We do try to search diligently for a way for parents to keep their children unless they have been harmed.

When Annie gave my request to the caller to come the next day for a meeting she told me the conversation that took place on the telephone. It seems that a former patient’s mother called and knew a couple that had given away their baby boy at birth to a single woman. The single woman got tired of the baby and brought it to a neighbor of the birth mother. The friend advised them not to just keep giving the baby away to someone they did not know and without legal papers. She advised them to give the baby to us, and so the meeting was arranged for the next day.

I told Annie, my social worker, “I will not take that baby home. I do not take the responsibility away from parents. If they cannot feed the baby we will help them. How much does milk cost anyway?” I have done many things to keep families in poverty together. Helping them start a small business, and building primitive housing for them. I truly beg the Lord’s guidance to know which children to take, and the ones that need a little help and encouragement to stay together as a family.

I related the story to Gus, and he just groaned! I told the children at home that I would not take this baby as they eagerly got excited for another baby. I just brought Naomi home a week ago. The bedroom is already full. I will not bring this baby home! I am never prepared for the picture before me of a family starving.

In the office the next day sat a man, a woman and 3 children. One a two months old baby boy wrapped in a ragged dirty cloth but absolutely perfect and beautiful beyond words. Well cared for by the single woman! Behind the dirty faces and dirty torn clothes of the other 4 or 5 year old boy and 10 year old girl were confused frightened children. I could just imagine the abuse and quarrels they witnessed from the man and woman. I said man and woman because I did not know if by my observation that they were even the parents. So I immediately took the baby in my arms, fixed a bottle and started to feed him. He looked at me and began to “coo”. I said out loud “don’t do that, I am not taking you home. My room is full of babies. Where would I put you anyway? No more beds, hardly any more floor space. Don’t smile at me! I’m not your mother!

I turned to the man and woman and said, “Ok, let’s unravel this story from the beginning so I can determine how I can help you. What do you need for you to keep this baby? Let’s start with, where do you live?” “We don’t have anywhere”, the woman said. She continued to stare at the floor. It was obvious she had been abused or threatened by the man and clearly had a mental problem. The other two children would not behave so we could talk. I asked one of the children from the home to please take them outside so they could play and we could finish our conversation. I turned to the man, who had a heavy beard and was almost disoriented. I said, “Is this your baby?” He answered immediately, “No”, “I did not think so”, I said. I just somehow knew that was only a small part of the problem. I turned to both of them and said, “Are you married?” “No”, was the answer.

I soon learned the whole story. The woman had no idea who any of the fathers were! She lived occasionally with her father who lived with an illegal wife, and it just got worse from there. I truly do not know what this man’s involvement was with the woman. What I did know is that the family I wanted to help to keep their baby, was not even a family! And this baby I had determined not to take home with me? I bundled him as the precious treasure that he was. The little 10 year old girl crying “Mama”, “Mama, they are taking our baby as I walked to the gate and to the car. Where does he sleep? In an arm chair pulled up to my bed so I can reach over and pat him as he whimpers between feedings?” He did not have a name. I named him Thomas. This Thomas never doubted for a moment that I was to be his mother, as he cooed at me on our very first encounter!!!

Mom Betty

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Earthquake and Terrorist Bombs

by Original Author on February 26, 2005

Originally posted by Betty Jo Harter

Earthquakes and terrorist bombs hover over us here in the Philippines as a thick fog. When we wake in the morning we never know which of these we will face this new day. As for the earthquakes, we almost now have a “ho-hum” attitude because they are so frequent. Since the tsunami they seem to have increased in number. Unlike when we first came here we now all know what to do depending on the intensity of the quake. If it is a slight tremor, we sit in dead silence praying it will stop. If the intensity is greater, moving tables, chairs, etc., we grab children and get outside away from the building as quickly as possible.

We do not take a “ho-hum” attitude toward the terrorist threats and the bombings. We do know that we are not in control. God has seemed to wrap us securely in His arms and hedged us in “feathers”. We have not been touched, even though the island of Mindanao where we live is on a high state of emergency for Americans. We try to use wisdom in our daily routine outside the subdivision. I am so thankful Bea and Hope are Mexican, because they do resemble Filipinos in their appearance and can travel about on the way to and from school without drawing so much attention. They are cautious not to betray their speech when in a strange crowd and to be careful that while riding jeepneys that they watch the carry on packages of passengers. If a passenger leaves a package on the seat and exits the jeepney, so do they. It could be a bomb, or just a forgetful passenger! We don’t know.

God’s providence once again protected us February 14. The scheduled court appearance was called for the finalization of the adoption for our John Mark and Lydia August. All the family was so excited. The children all helped to make sure John Mark’s hair was combed just right. They also packed cookies and toys so the children would have something to do since the court was to last late into the afternoon. We all prayed and thanked God for this day. We had been waiting now for four years, John Mark and Lydia having turn 4 years old February 10 and February 12. The children’s help allowed me to take extra time to try to conceal my appearance of 65 years old knowing that the maximum age of adopting was 45 years old. I decided there was no hope and just hoped the judge would show mercy!

The Hall of Justice in Davao is across from the Bus Terminal in Davao. Parking is at a minimum so we wanted to arrive a little ahead of schedule to be able to park. We first went by the attorney’s office, picked up the case worker and proceeded with Beatrice and Hope who were also to testify. We pulled up to the curb to park in front of the bus terminal. We noticed a lot of commotion and security, but did not think a lot about it. There is heightened security everywhere because of the terrorist threats.

We entered the building and found the court of our judge and nervously waited for our case. We were so thankful when we saw posted on the door of the court that we were the only one he was hearing that day. That seldom happens. We waited, no judge appeared; only the court clerk and the people we brought. In a very few moments the court clerk appeared and said the judge has been taken to the hospital. His blood pressure elevated to a dangerous level and they had to admit him.

I will be honest our first thought was, “Oh no, this is the fourth postponement for similar circumstances. I will be 70 years old by the time this case comes to court and there will be no hope”, Our second thought should have been our first. God is in control. He knows! He knows! So all of us including our precious babies, knelt and prayed and thanked God for the day and begged him to heal and comfort the judge in his sickness. We slowly walked back to the car and came home.

That’s not the end of the story. The evening news declared that a series of terrorist bomb attacks exploded simultaneously all over the Philippines. Where was the one in Davao? Right in front of the Bus Terminal where we were parked and would have been at the time of the explosion had the judge not been sick and our case postponed!!! No one can ever make me not believe that God in His kind providence hovers over us so very near. His angels watch over us!

Please praise God with us for another deliverance to be able to serve Him a new day.

God Bless,
Mom Betty

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“Taxi Cab Driver, Do You Want this Baby?”

February 26, 2005

Originally posted by Betty Jo Harter “Taxi Cab Driver, Do You Want this Baby?” is all we know about this beautiful doe-eyed Filipino baby girl. The only clue to her age is a pair of garnet colored pierced earrings in her ears. The birthstone for the month of January. She was brought to the clinic, […]

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Elder Bradley’s Visit to the Philippines

February 22, 2005

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter Several months back I had invited Brother Bradley to preach among the churches in the Philippines. He finally committed to a time January 26 to February 4. I scheduled services in 9 different cities where we had groups of congregations. He preached three times a day. We also had […]

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