From the monthly archives:

May 2007

Originally posted by Betty Jo Harter

Wisdom Seekers Academy is the name I chose for the school we have for the children of Beauty for Ashes. It is also the name I chose for the Home School for our adopted children.

Last April 6, 2007 Wisdom Seekers academy celebrated the end of our school year with a award and graduation ceremony. The ceremony was held at our church, Providence Primitive Baptist Church.

We celebrated our “end of the year awards the “Filipino way”. Each end of the year school year is a wonderful festive occasion every year for every grade. You see some of the Filipino children may not be able to attend the next year at another grade level even though they have passed the current grade. The may not have the money to attend school even though it is public. There are cost for projects, lunches, transportation, school uniforms, etc. so many cannot afford to attend beyond the third grade.

And so…we have a huge celebration for every student. We have certificates of graduation at each grade level. We give ribbons and medals for the best in literature, science, math, English, responsibility, etc. etc! We give as many awards as we can to encourage the student to another year. I am including pictures of the ceremony (please click the link below).

Part of the ceremony was a salute to the American flag and the Philippine flag. We sang the American National anthem and the Philippine National Anthem. The children quoted chapters of scripture from the youngest to the eldest. There was such an atmosphere of warmth and encouragement shown to all the children. What a joy it was to behold the looks on the faces of these special children who were abandoned, orphaned and or dying at the time they came to us and to be able to see them excel academically; these who had no future, nor possibility of being able to make a future for themselves as adults.

You would have been overjoyed had you been there. I do hope these pictures will give you a little taste of the experience we shared. I do hope and pray the children of Beauty for Ashes will live their lives for the glory and honor of God.

Your prayers and support have made possible so much of everything we do here in this part of the world. Thank you. Thank you.

God Bless,
Mom Betty
Photos of BFA School Graduation 2007



by Original Author on May 16, 2007

Originally posted by Betty Jo Harter


I am glad to think
I am not bound to make the world go right,
But only to discover and to do,
With cheerful heart, the work that God appoints.
I will trust in Him,
That He can hold His own; and I will take
His will, above the work He sendeth me,
To be my chiefest good. The glory is not in the task,
But in the doing it for Him
-Jean Ingelow

You have been receptive to me to share my innermost feelings about the work here in the Philippines. I need to do that now…

We will moving our residence to America in the fall of this year… I have stated our move “of our residence” because I want to emphasize that the work of Beauty for Ashes will continue here stronger that ever. So much of my heart is here with the work. How could I ever dismiss a work that the Lord has put his approval on?

Gus has included a letter to you in this mailing of the reasons for our new move. I will not burden you by expressing them to you again. I know that he prayed and laboriously wrote the letter because we both feel a love and responsibility to let you know what we are doing. You have been so faithful and prayerful to support the work, and we need your continued support.

I stated in my letter to you on my journey to wellness” how much I learned about myself while unable to walk or sit for over a year. I learned many things, but the main lesson I learned was that I am not indispensable in this great work. I was blessed to observe our God fearing staff pull together to continue everything like clock work. I was only able to interact with encouragement and planning, not able to give any physical support.

I can see now how the Lord was definitely preparing me for this next part of my journey. He certainly let me see that all was well as long as I depended on Him and not my own strength. I know that a work that depends upon one individual alone to sustain itself will not remain for very long. I want this work to last for His glory. This was my vision for the Philippines the year 2000. Thank you Lord, I have been able to view this vision unfold.

I wanted to have a permanent home for the children located on property here in Davao. I would dream of being able to watch the children running all over the lush grounds under the enormous mango trees on the property you helped purchase. While I was confined to bed, the cottages for the children were being constructed. I thought I could not bear it because I was unable to go to the property and enjoy seeing every concrete block laid and every nail being driven. Gus would bring me home samples of building materials such as tile, roofing, paint, etc. and I would choose what I thought was best. Thank you Lord for the digital camera. The older children and Gus would bring me home pictures so that I could see the progression of the construction even though I would long to sink my toes in the grass and experience all the surroundings; the church, the cottages, the ducks, pigs, and the crops planted all in a row, I did feel a part from viewing the pictures. How very, very thankful I am that our children have a permanent dwelling place to grow. I do pray that you have also been able to experience some of the same satisfaction from the pictures we include in our letters.

Even though it is very difficult and emotional to focus on the direction our lives will take in America, I have only one desire; whatever the Lord calls us to do we will do with all our strength for His glory, however large or small. I have prayed that the Lord will once again count us worthy to serve hurting, abandoned children in America as well as here.

We will be taking to America fourteen to sixteen children we have adopted. You have already met many of them through my letters or from the calendar profiles of the children I sent to you.

A few: Angel, the speechless little girl who initially drew me to the Philippines; Elizabeth, who begged on the streets and captured our hearts; Rhea, the infant abandoned in the trash in the market place. She was diagnosed with a large tumor in her chest and was not expected to live for another year; Hannah, the eight month old from the warring Manobo tribe in the mountains. The chief of her tribe threatened to kill me if I did not return her to the tribe. She was promised to the chief to marry when she became ten years old. These children I have mentioned are just a few I will bring. Of course the original adopted children that we brought with us from the United States will return home with us. They are special children!

The adjustment of the culture of the United States will take awhile both for me and the children. We have been confined in our home these seven years for our safety because we are Americans. All of our activities with the exception of our worship in our church has been in our home; school, play activities, entertainment everything is done here behind a gated, secured property.

We are used to armed soldiers everywhere, even at the entrance to the grocery store. The MILF and the NPA’s (New Peoples army) are on a rampage again. As the wardens of Americans in our area we receive postings from the American Embassy via email to us on a regular basis. We are then to pass on vital information to the other U.S. citizens we are assigned to. Two weeks ago we received a strong warning from the embassy about intelligence they received concerning planned bombing attacks to be carried out this month in the southern part of the island of Mindanao; exactly where we are located. They advised that all Americans limit their activities and travel and take their own personal safety in their own hands.

Just two weeks ago the NPA held 500 persons hostage in a school gymnasium only 20 miles from where we live. Yesterday we receive the most alarming posting from the embassy that we have ever received, telling us of particular incidents that will happen by terrorist in our area. Two children of U.S. citizens were kidnapped from their front yards in a city just down the road from us. The kidnappings are taking place for ransom money; the terrorist killings are because people will not pay their “protection money”.

Brethren we have lived with these happenings every since our arrival here, however, the warnings from the embassy are much more frequent now and much more severe that at any other time since we have been here. These are just a few of the reasons why our adjustment will be hard for some of us. I cannot imagine what it will be like to be able to move about freely without the fear of being threatened. Oh, how I do long for the familiar comforts of a ride in the countryside, or walking unguarded through a heavily populated area. Those comforts seem so very long ago.

If you will allow us, Gus and I and the children will visit you at your place by your invitation. We want to thank you and we want you to meet the children that you help to support. We want to share with you personally all about the ongoing work we are doing with orphans and the work of the churches. We will bring many pictures and videos of the work here.

I will continue to write you monthly of all the activities and events of Beauty for Ashes. The Lord willing, I will try and document in a book of the many experiences with my children. I have had the title of “My Book” in my head for many years now. I will need help in getting it ready for print.

Our scheduled time to return home will be in the fall, the Lord willing. Seven years in the scriptures in a complete number. Our stay here will be seven years in September. Upon returning home we plan to take time off from scheduled activities, including home schooling, to re-acquaint ourselves again with our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. To familiarize our adopted children with our magnificent country and to visit our Primitive Baptist brethren around the country.

Please pray for us, this decision to continue the ministry here from the United States has been more difficult for all of us emotionally than was our original decision to move from the United States to the Philippines. We long to see you.

God Bless,
Mom Betty