Philippine Travel Log: Our Last Day at Shekinah

Day 5: Sunday, October 5, 2008
Our Last Day at Shekinah

John-John with Sadiri and Auring, his house parents

John-John with his houseparents, Sadiri and Auring

I guess I was anxious to get back to the world of western food and air conditioning, because I started packing the night before.  With Sunday, our 5th day at Shekinah, packing commenced in earnest.  Throughout the day, John seemed more reserved than usual.  We thought perhaps he was picking up on the connection between packing and leaving, but that seemed like a pretty significant connection to make for a little boy who knows only the orphanage.  Either way, we spent much of the day in fear of the meltdown that would potential delay our flight that evening, etc.

The schedule was pretty simple for the day…

  1. Do laundry
  2. Settle up with Shekinah, which boiled down to very little paperwork
  3. Go to church
  4. Head to the airport and fly back to Manila

We had no idea how John would react to leaving the orphanage.  We didn’t know if he’d freak out from misunderstanding, be really sad, not even notice, or any number of other reactions.  We also didn’t know how he’d react to the airport, the 45 minute flight to Manila, the city (once we arrived), etc.  So, we decided to try to prepare him for some of this ahead of time.

We woke up this morning, and the first thing we did was give John a new toy airplane, and start talking about how we were going to have the grand adventure of flying on an airplane today.  This is also the point at which I first used the term “adventure” with John.  Now, whenever we’re going to do something new, I get him all primed and excited by saying “we’re going on an adventure”.  He eats it up.  I think that started on this day, talking about the adventure of flying on an airplane for the first time.

We also mentioned that we were going to church, and he didn’t seem to like that at all.  When we got to church and discovered that the kids were made to just sit quietly in an adult service, it was clear why.  But we’ll get back to that.

So, after John’s morning routine, which included breakfast delivered to us in our cottage, mom started in on the laundry.  John absolutely *loved* that.  He was mom’s little helper from start to finish.  JoAnne had shown Faith how to use the washer the day before and they had borrowed a big bucket (with which to get water into the washer), so she hit the ground running.  Once through the washer with soap, then spin dry, then back through the washer to rinse (no soap), then spin dry, then hang out on the line to really dry.  There was no dryer.

After the first load, she headed out to the clothes line to hang the clothes to dry.  This was about 8AM, after the sun had come up at about 5:30AM.  The woman who was watching the babies in the next cottage over had beaten her to the punch and had a bunch of clothes already up.  Faith was going to give up, but I pushed her out the door with a “it’s about community” to talk to her.  I thought they could easily share.  But, of course, the generosity of Philippine culture kicked in, and she ended taking most of her clothes down, and moving them to a line all the way on the other side of the compound, so that Faith could have the whole area to herself by our cottage.  Way too generous, but we were grateful.  Three loads later, pretty much everything we had was washed and hanging to dry, along with towels and such which belonged to the orphanage that we had used.

I put off getting my shower until as late in the day as possible, as it was swelteringly hot.  Of course, going to church in the afternoon meant wearing nice clothes too, and I was just imagining the church to be small and confined, therefore additionally hot.  Ugh.  Wasn’t looking forward to that.

I was also concerned because the church supposedly got out at 4:45PM, our flight was at 7:35PM, it takes an hour to get from Shekinah to the airport, we were supposed to be there 90 minutes early (everyone told us that), and we had to drop the kids back at the orphanage, say goodbye, and get John’s dinner between church ending and arriving at the airport.  So, I was making a point to communicate with everyone that we had to move with a purpose.

Brian and family came back over after breakfast.  They were leaving at 11AM to head back to where they live, so we weren’t able to have lunch with them.  They said their goodbyes to John-John without incident.  I was a little concerned that the goodbyes would make a good meltdown point, but none came.  Praise the Lord!

After they were gone, we ate lunch, put John down for his name (without incident), I got my shower, we got the clothes off the line, cleaned, finalized packing, and got ready for church.

We were leaving for church at 2:45PM, so got John up at 2:15, thinking we’d have plenty of time.  And then, pretty much out of nowhere, he lost it.  I think we were trying to get him to go to the bathroom before we left, since it would be a long time until the opportunity presented itself again, but either way he ended up hiding in the corner by the toilet on the ground screaming.  We pulled him out again and tried to hold him again, as with the previous day’s episode.  And similarly, it wasn’t working. Now what do we do?!

Two of the kids from the main building showed up, we think to get us to follow them back to the main building to get in the van to head to church.  We decided at that point that we needed to get John calmed down and ready to fly out, so we’d skip church.  We tried to communicate that to the kids, but they gave us blank stares and ran off.  I’m not sure their English was working enough to really get it.

A few minutes later the van pulled up.  Packed into it (as maniacally as they drive, there is no interest in seat belts at all in the Philippines) was pretty much the entire orphanage.  All the kids, Sadiri, Auring, one of their biological children, all the non-babies in the orphanage, and then room for Faith, John and I.

Sadiri and Auring got out of the van, started talking to John in Ilocano, and (with a bit of roughness I wouldn’t have used), finished getting him ready to get out the door.  It was clear that we were going to church no matter who didn’t like it.  And the weird thing was that John pretty much got a grip and went with it.  A couple minutes later, we were in the van on our way, and ended up being quite on time for church.  And John-John’s attitude wasn’t really even the worse for wear.

The church was roomy, had a lot of windows, and even more fans.  Also, God was good to me, and a cooler front was moving more rain in, so the temp was starting to back off its high of 125 or whatever craziness it was that day.  The service was like the TV and radio, a mixture of English and (I assume) Ilocano.  So, we had no idea what was going on at all.  The songs were all familiar, but that was it.  John clung to me the whole service, and was quite disinterested, which doesn’t surprise me.  The service was not at all setup for children.

At one point, the pastor, who clearly knew John-John and Shekinah Home well, had Faith, John and I stand up, and introduced us.  That was the only part of the 90 minute service that John found interesting.  When the pastor said his name (over the sound system no less), he sat bold upright and looked around trying to figure out where that came from.  It was pretty cute.

The message itself was extremely hard to follow.  Schizophrenic use of language aside, the sermon must have consisted of no less than 50 topics.  Before he really got rolling, he had a PowerPoint presentation that listed each book of the Bible and who Jesus was, as portrayed in that book.  So, for example, in Genesis, He is Creator.  In Exodus, He is Deliverer.  Etc.  He read through these and gave quick recaps most of the way through the old testament.

At first I thought this was awesome.  I was imagining that each of these books was its own sermon, and that he’d been working on / going through them for months.  I was all excited to see which book we’d talk about today.  But as it turned out, he was doing more like a dozen books per week, so this was only the 3-4 message in the series.  He covered a bunch of minor prophets at the end of the Old Testament, through the gospels, and stopped I think at Acts in the New Testament.  I was dizzy by the time he was done.  How could anybody actually walk away from that much information with practical application?!  Very interesting.

After the service, a number of people greeted us and congratulated us or expressed gratitude that we were taking John-John back with us.  It seemed like the whole community was excited about his adoption.  I wasn’t really expecting that, nor was I expecting to be introduced.  I also kicked myself for forgetting to bring the camera with us.  It would have been nice to get pictures of some of these people for John so that he’d have them when he got older and started asking questions about his past.

We only socialized for a few minutes, and then took off back for Shekinah.  I guess Sadiri had heard me loud and clear when I said that we would be in a hurry.  That was good. And the church, in downtown Dingras, was only a few minutes away from the orphanage, so we got back there in record time.

Upon returning to the compound, he drove right past the main building to our cottage.  Everyone hopped out of the van and started saying goodbyes.  I realized I didn’t have the camera, so I ran in to get it.  I took pictures of all the orphanage children, mama, papa and Mary Jane.  In case you’re wondering, she had jumped in the van and joined us in Dingras after church, because Brian had instructed her to go to the airport with us.  He was afraid that since John didn’t have his passport yet that he wouldn’t be able to travel, and wanted Mary Jane there to handle any related issues … which we greatly appreciated.

John said goodbye, for the most part, but wasn’t very animated … and certainly didn’t throw a fit.  The adults were far more emotional than he was.  While they were hugging and kissing him, I grabbed our bags and threw them in the van, and before we knew it, Faith, John, Sadiri, Mary Jane, Sadiri’s daughter, and I were off to the Laoag City airport.

About Jeff Block

Lover and follower of Jesus, the long awaited King. Husband and father. Writer and seminary student. On a long, difficult, joyful adventure, learning to swim with the current of God's sovereign love and walk with Him in the garden in the cool of the day.
This entry was posted in Adoption, Family and Friends, Travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Philippine Travel Log: Our Last Day at Shekinah

  1. Carol says:

    Jeff, could this picture be misidentified? Are these John-John’s house parents?


  2. Jeff Block says:

    Yes it was. Fixed it. Thanks for pointing it out!


  3. Pingback: Philippine Travel Log: Minor Disaster Averted « Jeff Block’s Personal Idea Fountain

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