Thursday, February 4, 2016

Coming Up! Compassion Trip #9 - Brazil & Honduras, September 2016

At the start of 2016 I had a dream. I was accepted into a Sports Journalism course at La Trobe University, signalling a possible change of career direction. However, that dream has been deferred for a year in favour of something much more important.

My next (ninth) Compassion trip is in the process of being organized, and I cannot express how excited and expectant I am about what God is going to do. In late September I am planning to visit Honduras for the first time and Brazil for the third time, culminating in celebrating my 35th birthday at Project BR-329 on October 1st.

Honduras is the one Compassion country in South/Central America I have not yet visited, and I sponsor three girls there: Paola, Jeilin and Helen.

My previous trips to Brazil in 2012 and 2013 have been well documented. I now only sponsor one child there (Larissa), but will be spending a week visiting five Projects and ten children on behalf of sponsor friends from Australia and the US.

There has already been subtle opposition:
- In the most recent “Top 50 World’s Most Dangerous Cities” list, San Pedro Sula came in at #2 and Fortaleza was #12.
- The recent Zika virus is currently in the news, and has been prominent in both countries.
- The value of the Australian dollar has been decreasing, making it much more expensive to travel.

However, I forge ahead without any fear, worry or trepidation. Why?

"How can I turn away from the hurt of the world when I bear the Light of the world?" (Brianne McKoy)

Over the last nine years I have sponsored 67 kids with Compassion and visited 32 of them in 12 countries. I have spent thousands of dollars and travelled thousands of kilometres for the sake of a few hours with these precious children and their families. I have been met with deep affection and sometimes no response at all. I have seen their homes, communities and churches. I have taken them to supermarkets, restaurants, malls, zoos and fun parks, often for the first time. I have cried with them, prayed with them and revelled in their child-like joy and excitement.

In return I have received so much.

Such generosity and hospitality from those who have little to give. I have had parents give up their day of income earning just so they could meet me. I have had a father share with me the sweet liquid from a coconut which he would normally sell to feed his seven children. I have received gifts galore: drawings, paintings, photos, bags, drink bottles, t-shirts, hand-made scarves. All given with such love!

To me, the whole thing is a picture of the grace and mercy of God. Unearned, undeserved but given freely, generously and extravagantly.

So what can I do in response but try in my own small way to pass on and model that extravagant and generous love of God? Since 2009 I have chosen
to spend four of my birthdays (this year will be #5) overseas visiting my Compassion sponsored children in Colombia, Brazil and the Philippines. Birthdays are generally self-indulgent days which are "all about me," but I was trying to flip it on it's head and make it "all about them."

In 2012 I took all ten of my sponsored kids plus their families to a fun park in Brazil and in 2013 I returned and celebrated at one of the Projects with a jumping castle, trampoline and cotton candy. To give these kids a day of joy, freeing them from the challenges of their daily lives and allowing them just to be kids, even for an afternoon was a profound privilege.

My single motivation as a Compassion sponsor and advocate has always been this: to share the love of Jesus with them. Not to raise myself up as some sort of hero or saviour, but to represent The One who alone can put an end to their sadness, hurts, fears and worries. The only One who can give them love, joy, peace, faith, freedom and hope for the future.

He must become greater, and I must become less.” (John the Baptist, John 3:30)

It’s all about Jesus, and as a Christian I am His hands and feet. He has equipped me, in partnership with Compassion and His church, to bring His light to the dark places.

In my travels I have come face-to-face with poverty and the impact that it has, not just on a person’s circumstance, but their soul and their whole outlook on life. I have been smacked around by it, angered by it, paralysed by it. Taunted by it, in my well-meaning quest to ‘save the world’: “You’re just one person. What can you possibly do to stop me?”

In reality, Satan is just bluffing. He knows that the love of Jesus is real, life-transforming and relentless and we demonstrate it through our actions. Through our regular letters, children are given words of life, hope, encouragement and love. If we are given the opportunity to visit, they know that someone cares enough about them to travel, often halfway around the world, to step into their lives and physically BE WITH them. Just like Jesus came to earth from heaven, God in human flesh, to BE WITH us.

So, just in case you’re still wondering WHY I and many other sponsors do what we do: it is worth every dollar spent and every kilometre travelled to share this message with my sponsored children and their families:

You are loved. You have infinite value and worth because you have been created in the image of God and you are special to Him. You are a supporting actor in His eternal story and He has created you with special gifts and talents that He wants you to use for His glory. Trust in God and never give up.

God-willing, I look forward to sharing this very message with many people in Honduras and Brazil in September.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Compassion Sponsorship Journey - Saying Goodbye to Josefa

Four years ago, I made the decision to sponsor Josefa from Guatemala with Compassion. She is just about to turn 18 and two weeks ago I received a letter saying she had graduated from the program. Normally this would be cause for rejoicing and eagerly anticipating the next stage on the journey away from poverty, but instead I am grieving.

I want to share the journey we have been on over the last four years as sponsor and sponsored child.

Josefa was 13 when I first sponsored her and one of the first things that struck me about her was her letters were always so detailed, raw and honest. Many people take years to form any sort of connection or relationship with their sponsored kids because it seems like they get the same scant template letters a couple of times a year with minimal detail, but this girl did not hold back.

One of the first things I found out was that her father was an alcoholic and, as the oldest child, Josefa was forced to work just to put food on the table for her mother and four siblings. Thankfully, she said her employers treated her well and she loved them. However, this seriously derailed her dream of being a doctor, since she was unable to go to school.

Josefa’s letters painted a clear picture of the hardships she and her family faced, but I was continually staggered by her spiritual maturity and rock-solid faith in Jesus. Here is a sample of the words I was treated to every time I opened a letter from Josefa:

Life is not very happy here because there is a lot of crime, child abuse and in Guatemala life is very hard, because we work in the field and as the sun is very strong, then we get sick. After that we see the hard work fruit and of the time we spent at work

I was very happy because my dreams would come true, I am so eager, that will be an unforgettable day for me and my family, it’s the first time the sponsor will come to visit. I know it was your decision, our dream would come true. Thank you for the time you give me. Every time I write to you I get courage to go on, I feel so proud to have you

I pray for you every day because now I know that dreams can come true asking God with all the heart. Thank you for all the time you gave me and for giving me your love and attention.

Thank you for the letters you have sent to me and for the time you dedicate to write to me. When I read the letters you send me I am so happy to know more about you and I know every day you enjoy lots of things with your family, students and friends and other sponsors.

I have the honor of having a sponsor like you; you are one of my best examples to follow because it is wonderful to read the letters you sent to me. It is as if I were close to you; I am happy, like with your presence in my humble home. It was so great when you were with me. I will never forget that day. If I lived with you it would be a great life, sad-happy, full of blessings and joy. When I write letters to you I get inspired because I imagine you with me. I don’t know how, but it is like magic writing these words because I do not say them, my heart says them, and with lots of love. I pray that you enjoy God’s blessing every day, and that you be an angel of God. I ask God for the day that you would come to my humble home.

In my free time I read a book or the Bible because sometimes I get scared. It’s like living as you read it. I like to read inspirational thoughts and I like visiting home. I wrote something: “Dreams come true asking God for wisdom because to Him, nothing is impossible; we have to open our heart and ask with faith.” This pushes me to go on when I am in trouble my family or in my life.

Thank you for the letter that you sent me, I missed communicating with you and I am happy and proud that you continue sponsoring me. I prayed God so you would communicate with me again because you have my love and my trust. I feel proud to have you as my sponsor again

I always pray God so you can be happy and healthy and also that you can achieve your purposes so that people can follow you as a model man. I expect your visit with joy, I’m so excited and I felt the most blessed person by God, since He gave me a sponsor like you

In 2014 I was living in the Philippines, so Josefa was sponsored by a friend of a friend I did not know personally. Late in the year when I knew I was coming back to Australia I checked in with my friend how Josefa’s sponsorship was going, and it turned out the sponsor had let her go after only a few months. I was devastated, and immediately contacted Compassion to see if I could resume sponsoring Josefa. Even though I was still a volunteer in the Philippines at that point, God provided for me financially so I was able to resume straight away.

Her profile picture broke my heart.

This was a face bereft of any hope or joy and I immediately sent a letter off, desperate to speak words of life and joy back into her soul.

God gave me the incredible opportunity to visit Josefa’s family twice, first in January 2013 and most recently in July 2015. They live in a remote Mayan (indigenous) community in the mountains about three hours from Guatemala City.

They were both incredibly impacting days I will never forget. While I thought I had some grasp of what the family’s life is like from Josefa’s letters, the harsh reality of their daily life was only fully evident when I made the decision to actually step into their lives for a day and be with them. I left both times feeling like I’d been kicked in the guts, but also thankful that God was allowing me to make a tangible difference to this family’s life through sponsorship.

Many sponsors are happy for their sponsored child to be nothing more than a monthly cheque and a face on the fridge. I can understand that to a point: maybe they’re afraid of what they’ll find out about their child’s reality if they go deeper. I made the decision early on that if I wanted to love these kids and families like God loves them, I had to make the choice to invest in them fully, first by writing regularly and then by visiting. God has used the visits to the homes and communities to wreck my heart, but also solidify my life’s mission, purpose and vision to use what I’ve been given to help others.

On the visits to Josefa I was able to meet the whole family and I was blessed by their hospitality and generosity. Out of the little they had, they gave much.

We got out the letters I had written to Josefa and looked at the pictures. I was given proof that when you write letters to your sponsored child it’s the whole family that’s impacted, as her mother enthusiastically rattled off things she knew about me from the letters.

I was able to see the Project (church) and meet many of the kids in their intricate colourful Mayan clothing. The church is Josefa’s safe space, an atmosphere filled with the love and peace of God, where she can learn, grow and thrive into the beautiful woman God has created her to be.

I was able to take the family shopping for groceries and out to a meal at Pollo Campero (think KFC). As simple as it seems, this was always one of the profound parts of the visits I’ve done, since most if not all the families cannot afford to eat out together and I was able to provide them with this memorable family time.

I met Josefa’s father in 2013 but when I visited in 2015 the family had not seen him for three days. It was so obvious that Josefa was starved of any sort of affection and she clung to me all day. As a sponsor, it has never been my intention to be any sort of “replacement father.” I believe that part of a sponsor’s role is to work WITH the parents to support their children and give them a hope and a future free from poverty. However it is clear from this video that Josefa sees my four years of investment in her life as being like a father to her.

Her father turned up as we were leaving the Project, clearly drunk and soaking wet. I wondered what would happen, but thankfully he was full of nothing but gratitude to God and to me for caring for his daughter when he was unable to.

The reason I am not full joy and excitement at the news that Josefa is graduating is because when I left that family six months ago, I did not get the sense that they were anywhere close to being “released from poverty,” at least in the material sense. Josefa and her brother were both working just to put food on the table and Josefa was not at school.

Unless things have changed drastically in the last six months and her father has turned his life around and is providing for his family, I don’t see how stopping the sponsorship at this point is beneficial to the family.

Please understand: I'm not questioning the decision to graduate her. I fully trust Compassion to make the right decision for the family and not just stop the support and leave them to fend for themselves just because Josefa has turned 18. However, based on what I saw after being in the family’s lives for a day, I do feel a sense of “Surely it can’t end like this?” and “What’s next for this family?” I am feeling a sense of loss and grief after investing in their lives for four years.

I do take solace in the fact that the family are committed Christians, and they have the church community to help and support them. I know that as much as I love this family, God loves them even more and He will take care of them. That’s all I can hold on to.

This was my final letter to Josefa:

Dear Josefa,

I received a letter from Compassion saying that you have graduated the program and I won’t be your sponsor anymore, so I guess this will be my last letter to you.

I hope you know that you and your family are very special to me. I will always remember the two days we had together when I came to visit you. Thank you for having me in your home and in your life. Seeing up close how hard your life is made me sad and I thought about you often. I am thankful to God that He enabled me to help and provide for your family, and as you get older I hope you hold onto God’s love for you.

I will be praying for your father, that he will make good decisions and come back and support you and your family. I pray that he will give his addiction to Jesus, because Jesus is the only one who can help him. I will also be praying for your brother, that God will help him in his work, and that he is able to resist going down the same path that your father has.

When I was with you I noticed you were very affectionate. I could tell that you are desperate for someone to love you because you haven’t always had that love when you were growing up. I know that God will provide you with a wonderful man in the future and I pray that you make wise choices regarding your friends and the things you do with them.

I need you to know how proud I am of you and your family. You are very brave and you inspire me. Despite the difficulties of your life, you continue to help each other and trust in God for your needs. That is amazing to me and I love you so much. Please know that even though I am not your sponsor anymore, I will always remember you and pray for you. God has given me His love for you, and you will never be forgotten.

I need to tell you again how much God loves you. The Bible teaches us that we are separated from God because of sin but when Jesus came down to earth from heaven, died on the cross and rose again, we can now be friends with God again and live with Him forever in Heaven. It is amazing that God would come down to earth to be with us. That is how much He loves us!

I want to share with you from the book of Psalms chapter 36, verses 5-12:
Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice is like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord. How precious is your unfailing love O God.
All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your rivers of delight.
For you are the fountain of life, the light by which they see.
Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you; give justice to those with honest hearts.

I pray these words are true for you and that God helps these words of Life and encouragement sink deep in your heart. I am so proud of who you are now and who you will become. Keep working hard and dreaming big because with God, all things are possible. I love you with the love of God.

Your friend, David.

No Man Is An Island (Though I Sometimes Feel Like One)

I am 34-years-old and single. In Australia this fact barely raises an eyebrow, as more and more people are waiting later in life to get married etc. But in all the other countries I’ve been, where people marry and have families young, often out of necessity, the reality of my personal status has often resulted in stunned incredulity or tumbleweed-inducing awkward silence.

I have never known anything else besides singleness and I am wrestling with whether this is what I am ‘destined for’ or whether there is something else in store. I’m also wrestling with whether I even want the ‘something else.’

I’ve cultivated a nice simple, uncomplicated life. I am happy in my own company, not having to talk to anyone and can’t imagine spending hours at a time with one person, more for their sake than mine. I am debt-free, a committed minimalist and have been able to travel and make a difference to hundreds of lives through Compassion sponsorship. I don’t want to get caught up in a comfortable little suburban, domestic, mortgage-two-kids-two-cars-two-pets-white-picket-fence-life. To me, that reality is limiting and is not one to strive for.

In the end, all that matters to me is using what I’ve been given to glorify God and help others, and demonstrating this through a life of radical, sacrificial generosity. All that matters to me is hearing “Well done, good and faithful servant!” from Jesus when my life is over. So far, I’ve been able to live this life mainly due to my single status and conscious decision to live debt-free, and I am left wondering: where do a wife and kids fit in this picture? Is it possible to live the life I described above while encumbered with the costs and responsibilities of a home and family? If the answer is ‘no’, do I really want it?

I don’t often talk about my relationship status but when I do, there are a variety of responses:
You’re such a wonderful man, some woman’s going to be so lucky to have you.”
You’re still young, it will happen one day.”
Wait for God’s perfect timing.
Enjoy the season you’re in.
I also get lots of positive encouragement about my wonderful personality and character, but it’s always from females who are either outside the appropriate age range or safely ensconced in their own relationships; never from thirty-something single women. Go figure.

It’s funny how our perspective of ourselves changes depending on the angle we approach it from. On one hand, this is the utterly un-Facebook-worthy reality of my life at this very moment: 34, single, unemployed and living with my parents (ladies, form a line!).

On the other hand, I am also a:
* Qualified teacher
* Small business owner
* Published author and sports journalist
* Accomplished musician and recording artist
* Compassion sponsor, advocate and traveller
* Doting uncle to five little people between age 3 and 7

I’m not sure what my point is or how I wrap it up; just something I’m working through and processing, I guess.

I’m a committed Christian man with a generous heart and good with kids. I’ll leave that with you, plus some self-deprecating humor to finish off:

Probably the highlight of my romantic life.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Reflections on Returning To Ruel Foundation

At the start of 2014 I left my life in Australia behind and moved to the island of Oriental Mindoro in the Philippines to serve at an orphanage called The Ruel Foundation. I was teaching English and Maths to a class of five kids as well as creating blogs and videos to let supporters know about the work we were doing and how they could help.

I sold up everything I owned and fully intended it to be a long-term venture. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons relating to gender, culture and personality, I did not last and found myself back in Australia after ten months.

This hurt, and for a few weeks after I re-entered Australian culture I journeyed through feelings of anger and frustration, mainly at myself for my inability to stick at anything longer than 12-18 months.

2015 was an amazing year. God continually provided for me as I reacquainted myself with my nieces and nephews, resumed Compassion sponsorship and advocacy, and developed a possible future career in sports journalism.

To be honest, when I left Ruel, because of the way it had ended, I did not imagine myself going back. However, I seem to suffer from a perpetual state of wanderlust and it was soon after I returned from my July trip to the US/Guatemala/Nicaragua that I planned my next journey. I was missing the kids and decided to make a return visit to Ruel for three weeks in late December/early January, since that is our long vacation time in Australia.

January is my least favourite month of the year, even though in Australia it is holidays and the middle of summer. I am a task oriented ‘do-er’ with no family of my own and in vacation time, everything stops. I hate it; I am not a relational person and I have to be doing something; it’s how I derive my meaning, purpose and satisfaction in life. So my return to Ruel was partly about giving me something constructive to do and using my time in a way that will benefit others.

In August I contacted the Ruel director Pauline, and she said she was happy to have me back. I spent Christmas with the family and flew up on December 28th. I would have liked to stay longer, but everything was much more expensive than when I was there in 2014, as living costs had gone up and the value of the Australian dollar had gone down by nearly 25%.

The first half of my trip was overshadowed by ‘The Luggage Debacle.’ I flew up via Kuala Lumpur on AirAsia, which is a budget airline, and had to pay $60 just to check my bag onto the plane. When I arrived in Manila, I discovered that my luggage had not joined me. Further enquiries revealed that it was still sitting at KL airport, having, for whatever reason, not been put on the connecting flight.

I filled out a luggage-misplacement form and went to Ruel with my friend Marvin, with basically the clothes on my back. Long story short, I spent the first 11 days at Ruel with three sets of clothes and no computer, since I had left the electrical cord in my luggage. It finally arrived on the Ruel doorstep on January 8th.

As annoyed as I was about the luggage thing, God continually gave me the gift of perspective, as I needed only a cursory glance around Manila or the community in which I was staying to realize that I was still better off than the majority of people. That certainly put me back in my place and silenced my complaints and grumbles.

My time at Ruel was really enjoyable and I loved being there again. 20 of the 31 kids were the same as when I had been there previously, just 13 months older and a little taller. This made it easy to settle back into routine and re-establish relationships, and in many ways it felt like I had never left. My role involved teaching the seven schoolkids in the mornings and I was free to spend the rest of the time playing with them.

The absence of my computer was, in a way, a blessing in disguise as it meant I couldn’t just sit on it for hours like I had previously, but ‘forced’ me to do other things and interact with people more. On this occasion I spent a lot more time with the little ones over at the Malnourishment Center (admittedly a couple of my favourites were there) and made it part of my daily routine to take two or three of them out for a walk every day. It was a significant thing to be able to give them this one-on-one attention; just to hold them and sing to them was very special.

I was at Ruel as the year ticked over from 2015 to 2016, so I experienced my first New Years Eve in the Phils. The karaoke was at full blast all over the neighbourhood, the fireworks were going off and there was a general feeling of crazy chaotic joy! People spend up big and this results in a pretty awesome sound and light show. On the evening of January 1st, the city of Calapan had their fireworks in the middle of town and we were able to take some of the older Ruel kids into town to see them, which was pretty special.

I spent New Years Eve with four New Zealanders: Pauline and her husband Warren, as well as two other volunteers Jan and Neil, so in the spirit of goodwill to my neighbours from across the ditch, I found myself drinking from a NZ stubby holder :o

During my time at Ruel in 2014 I witnessed seven international adoptions, as the kids were connected with their “Forever-families” from all parts of the globe. This was probably the most special part of working in an orphanage. Amazingly, even though I was only at Ruel for three weeks on this occasion, I was able to witness another one. A couple of siblings, 4-year-old Mr C and 3-year-old Miss J were adopted by a local couple.

I still struggled with a few of the same cultural things and constantly being stared at, but because I was only there for three weeks I didn’t let it bother me as much. I didn’t go out into the community except to church and the local mall when I needed stuff. I’m not a beach/market/sightseeing type person. I was there for the kids and was happy to fill up my days at Ruel.

A few people commented about the improvement of my general demeanour and attitude. By the time I left Ruel in 2014, the frustration/hostility stage of culture shock had sunk it’s mitts into me and did not let go, so I was quite a grumpy and withdrawn old geezer. I definitely believe that the short-term nature of this visit made a difference to the way I approached my time there. It was a blow to the ego to accept that I “couldn’t hack” living overseas long-term, and I just have to face the reality that I am more suited to short-term trips.

Most people who work with kids will know that there are some who you connect with more than others. I’ll admit that there were three or four kids in particular from my first stint who I was keen to see on my return. They were all still there and I was able to spend some good quality time with them, although it did make it harder saying goodbye.

I also enjoyed reconnecting with my friends at the church I had been part of previously – United Evangelical Church, Calapan. They were very welcoming and hospitable. UEC and Ruel have formed a significant partnership, and I was happy to play a small part in that. The Ruel kids spend the vast majority of their time at the orphanage, so they love going to church and interacting with other kids, since it gets them out and about.

UEC is a Compassion partner church (PH268) and after I left in 2014 I sponsored a girl from the Project, so I’d have a good reason to come back and visit. When I knew I was coming back to Ruel, I organised through Compassion to visit Aljane and her family. It was a positive and enjoyable day, made a bit different by the fact that I already knew the community as well as many of the Project workers, whereas in all the other countries I have visited I have flown in as a stranger and haven’t known anyone.

I visited the church, the family’s house and a highlight was taking the whole family out to the fast-food restaurant Jollibee, where we saw and got a photo with the Jollibee mascot. We also visited the Robinson’s mall where we found a children’s play area and Aljane and her two brothers had 30 minutes of pure, joyful, energetic kid-fun that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford.

I have now visited 32 of my Compassion kids in 12 countries and can honestly say that it doesn’t get old, boring or ‘same-same.’ Each new meeting is an amazing experience; a gift from God where the connection formed through sponsorship moves to a whole different level by meeting in person and seeing where they live, work and play. I have entered their world, and it becomes real.

Back at Ruel, for some reason I thought it would be a smart idea to take 17 Ruel kids, aged from 1 to 12, to McDonald’s for a special farewell treat. I let the caregivers and kids know a few days in advance and the anticipation among the kids reached fever pitch. Every day I got “You’re taking us to McDo on Friday!” As the time drew closer I started to question the wisdom of such a decision. I went into McDo early in the week to ask about the party room. I made it clear I didn’t want to book a party but they insisted it would cost P3000 (almost $90AU). I said not to worry, and we’d just try our luck in the general dining area.

As it turned out we had nothing to worry about, as 17 little people and 7 adults squeezed into the Ruel van and little red truck and took over the Calapan McDonald’s. Each little belly was filled with juice, an ice-cream and their choice of burger or fries. A couple of the little ones were trying ice-cream for the first time, and it was priceless. Such a simple treat provides such joy and a memory that these kids will have for a long time. Thanks to Kuya Warren, Kuya John, Ate Angela, Ate Marsha, Ate Jo and Ate Malu for their help.

When it came time to leave, the farewells were certainly a lot harder this time around. Back in 2014 my exit was best for everyone but this time was a much more positive experience. Also, a couple of the kids who had become really attached to me were only at Ruel temporarily, so I knew it was probably the last time I would see them.

Before I headed back to Australia I stopped in on some friends, Nikki and Anthony Esquivel, who run Mercy House of the Philippines, a ministry to street kids in Silang Cavite. I first connected with them back in 2014 and they were happy to have me again for a couple of nights, despite their crazy and unpredictable schedule. It was great to meet up and see the kids again, and we had a great day together playing cards, Connect-4 and watching Mr Bean.

I also met another missionary working in the area called Erin Johnson, who’s been in the Phils since about 2008 with a ministry called Brand New Day. Erin was kind enough to take me to the airport when the Esquivels got a last-minute call to update a visa in Manila which would have required a 4.30am wake-up call for me.

Overall, the three weeks I spent at Ruel were a really positive way to spend my holidays and I’m glad I went back. I took lots of photos and videos while I was there and I’d love for you to check out the blog and YouTube channel I started back in 2014 and updated last week.

I am happy to remain connected with Ruel Foundation and I am hoping, God-willing, to go back regularly.

These are some of my favourite pics. Enjoy!