CLEARWATER TRIBUNE HOME

AUGUST 5, 2010

Team Missions spent $450 on new undergarments for the girls and staff members at Nehemiah House. 

A View From Me to You: Conclusion

By Monique Judkins

   This article is the conclusion of Monique’s four-part personal account of a missions trip to Nehemiah House in the Philippines.

   Last night we did another of our puppet shows, this time we used a small window in the wall between the kitchen and the entry way to do the show; it provided the perfect space. The “puppeteers” sat on one side while the audience sat on the other. The kids all loved it. After we were done we let the kids come up in groups of five to six to do a puppet show for us. Some of them were very creative. All of us had a great couple of hours.

   Not all of the girls are able to come and join us in the fun. One of the girls, Christine, was abused to the point that she needed extensive surgery to remove abscesses in her liver and part of her colon had to be removed. She also has been suffering from severe urinary tract infections that have started shutting down her kidneys. When all the antibiotics they tried failed, she had to start going to the hospital two times a day for IV antibiotics to the tune of $100 day (which included cab rides there and back).

   One night, the girls were all downstairs dancing and having fun when I noticed Christine dancing with the other girls! I was very happy and prayed she would be able to come downstairs more often instead of having to stay in bed recovering. Nehemiah House is currently taking donations to help defray the cost of Christine’s medical bills.

   Having Luke on the team turned out to be a godsend. Many of the girls relayed to us that through his kind, gentle nature they have learned to trust boys again. Because he was there, they began to see that not all men are bad and will abuse them. Despite this, some of the girls have confessed to me that they didn’t think that they would ever have a husband and a family; they were tarnished.

   Of coursed I told them that God will find the perfect man for them when the time was right and he would love them and understand their situation. It was good to see a smile in return.

   Over the course of the next few days I was able to do more dental work and guess what? Genevieve came up to me on Sunday all sad because she had lost her tooth out of her tooth necklace. I replied, “Oh well, I guess we will have to get you another one.” She thought about this for a minute then said, “I have three more bad ones.” Inwardly I smiled—she was ready to trust me again.

   That afternoon we were able to get two more teeth out, she took two prizes that day and quickly set out showing the others her treasures including the new teeth in her tooth necklace.

   So far I have pulled 27 teeth and have about eight more to go that I can assess. Some of the teeth I pulled were done at the church we went to on Sunday. I told a few of them I would return and do extractions free of charge. I had about five people take me up on that. Because they lack sufficient funds to go to the dentist; they usually just bear out the pain in their teeth for years while it rots in their mouth. I was more than happy to be able to help, if only I cold have done more.

   The evenings were spent catching up on my dental work and doing crafts. Kathy and Gwen helped the girls do their sock puppets. Because I knew the kids would enjoy the puppets so much I brought all the material they would need to make their own. I took three nights but eventually they all had them done.

   Some had ponytails, others had straight red hair (we used yarn), black or blonde hair. We brought buttons for eyes and red felt for the mouth. They sewed all this in place little by little. The finished results were darling and all the girls were proud of their creations.

   One afternoon, Kathy, Gwen, I and two of the staff went to market to buy all the girls their own underclothes. We had $450 to spend total. The money was raised back in the states by another friend, Shirley, who had wanted to join our team but couldn’t for health reasons. We were able to get each of them new panties, socks, and for the older girls, new bras. That night we presented the new gifts to them.

   Michael said even though they might’ve been a bit embarrassed, they all needed the new clothing and were very grateful. They money was sufficient to even buy a set for the three staff girls living there. Since they had to raise all their own funds, it was rare to get new things. I was amazed to see a bra/panty set sell for just $3.

   Saturday, May 1 – It is hard to believe that tomorrow we depart. Everyone has a sense of sadness as we spend our last full day together. We found out that they are planning a surprise going-away party for us. All afternoon we see them working in the kitchen making food, decorating and trying not to let us see what they are up to.

   Finally it is dinner time and they have laid out before us a feast. We have fresh fruit set in a hollowed out watermelon, salads, beef and vegetables and rice. For dessert they have prepared a special treat; mango float. It is comprised of graham cracker crumbs layered between mangos with sweetened condensed milk. It is a national favorite. For drinks they have purchased soda pop in bottles which is very rare for them. It is the first time I have seen pop while there.

   We are feeling so honored and it is hard to hold back the tears but we do our best since we are all trying to engage with a spirit of fun. Then at the conclusion our meal they ask us to line up and Michael presents us each with a souvenir T-shire especially made for us with “YWAM Nehemiah House 2010” on the front.  Each is made to fit our specific sizes. They also gift us each with a framed 8 x 10 picture of all the girls; inside they have each written us a personal note of thanks.

   Without notice all the girls, staff and missionaries slowly start encircling us, laying their hands on us. They want to send us off with a blessing. They each in turn say a prayer of thanks to God and ask him to take care of us as we travel back home. Now the tears were flowing freely despite our best efforts. I have a hard time sleeping knowing that we leave at 2 p.m. tomorrow.

   Sunday, May 2 – I had only a few more sealants to do before I can pack up all my dental supplies. I had never been able to do dental sealants before; I didn’t have the funds to purchase the $1,000 dental light necessary to cure the sealant material. This year though the dental office I worked at had a light they were not able to use so they donated it to me. I had it repaired for under $200 and was able to bring it.

   I figured I had sealed over 400 teeth over the last 111 days. It was such a blessing to be able to do something preventive on their teeth. A dental sealant covers the surface of the molars and premolars where anatomical seep crevices are present. These crevices are deeper that even one toothbrush bristle can reach so are very susceptible to decay. Being able to seal the surface prevents the inevitable cavity that would occur. I felt very good about being able to provide this service to them.

   Even the missionary’s children were able to benefit from this. I only had two more extractions to do on Mama Tating (Michael’s wife). They both came out very easily which was a relief to not only me but Tating also; she is very fearful of the dentist.

   Once we were all packed up we tried to spend our time playing with the kids. Throughout the morning they would come up to us and give us pictures of themselves with notes attached. It was a very emotional morning.

   After church services we had a short time to get cleaned up and ready for our flight. I took only my second cold shower since arriving. Every other time I did a sponge bath and washed my hair in the sink. I am allergic to cold showers. I cannot do it so I surprised even myself when I actually stood in the cold shower. Maybe if I lived here I could get used to it but in reality I loved a hot shower. I couldn’t wait to get home and enjoy this luxury.

   At 2 p.m. we all loaded up in the van that had picked us up at the airport and quickly hugged everyone and said, “Good-bye.” I had promised myself I would not cry, for the girls’ benefit, but couldn’t help it. I said my goodbyes without lingering too much to keep my emotions in check. I had especially bonded with Mai Mai, Genevieve, RegieMae and Nemejane, I almost had to tear myself away and force myself into the back of the van.

   Once at the airport we again had to deal with Cebu Pacific Airlines. We had intentionally left many of our clothes, craft supplies and lots of dental supplies in order to reduce our take home baggage and thus not have to pay for baggage on the return trip home. In spite of all this we still had to pay $200 to get our luggage checked in.

   Somehow the last 11 days flew by and now we are off to our homes. I will never forget the girls at Nehemiah house. I pray you never will either; that you will remember to pray for the ministry there and all the girls presently living there in the lives of these precious people. Perhaps He will allow me to return and have the honor of serving him there again. It will be my pleasure.

Don Judkins enjoys the going away meal prepared for Team Missions by the Nehemiah House staff and residents.

Team Missions at the airport, shortly before departing the Philippines to return to the United States. Pictured (l to r) are Gwen Tuning, Kathy Gadowa, Monique Judkins, Michael (Nehemiah House director, seeing them off), Don Judkins, and Luke Manifold.

The Nehemiah House girls and staff form a prayer circle with Team Missions before they leave for the airport.