Thursday, October 3, 2013

Philippines Day 1-Meeting Joy

The next morning, we made the arrangements to meet the I.C.A.B. social worker and our driver at the hotel so we could go to the orphanage to meet Joy. This was our first "real" glimpse of the city of Manila.

When we booked our hotel, we purposely booked it in the closest "safe" area of town to the orphanage. We thought we were only about 10 minutes away from the orphanage-but we had no idea how to account for Manila traffic! What would have taken 10 minutes in our city, took well over an hour in Manila. Traffic was insane. Cars honking, people walking in middle of the traffic selling goods, street children begging, Jeepenys, and buses. I felt terribly claustrophobic.

Joy's orphanage was in a "gated" community with a guard outside of it. That sounds nice-but it really wasn't. The streets leading up to the orphanage had little homes made out of cardboard and maybe tin roofs where people lived. The poverty was overwhelming.

When we pulled up to the orphanage, I was surprised at how nice it was. It was surrounded by a cement wall and a large guard dog named Trigger greeted us at the gate. We were warmly welcomed by Ate J who was the social worker at the orphanage and ushered into a large front room that was the office. After a few minutes of "chit chat" Ate J asked us if we wanted to meet Joy. A few minutes later I heard what sounded like a scream/cry and I was told that was Joy. I asked if she was crying or scared and I was told she was excited.

It was quite a surreal experience to meet Joy for the first time. I could tell that Joy was nervous when she entered the room. I could also tell that she was well loved and taken care of. Her hair was fixed in a pretty French braid with barrettes and she was holding the Ate's hand. She looked at Natalie right away and basically clung to her the rest of the time. She did give me a small hug and sat on my lap for a minute at the urging of one of the Ate's-but that didn't last long.

At one point while we were there, Joy touched Darren's nose and said something in Tagalog. All those in the room that understood what she said, laughed! She had told Darren he had a big nose!

We got a tour of the orphanage. It was very nice and the Ate's were so kind. I could tell that the babies were well loved. There were so many adorable babies. I wanted to hold them, but I knew it was more important for me to focus on Joy. I did not want her to think we were there for the babies. She had seen all of her friends be adopted, and now it was her turn. She was chosen. Even though she was loved in the orphanage, there was a hole in her heart. She wanted a family, and we were there to be that family.

The missionaries who run the orphanage arrived while we were getting the tour. They had cut their vacation short to come see Joy off to her new family. They were kind and I could tell they loved Joy so very much.

We only stayed about an hour or so before heading back to the hotel. We would come back the following day to pick Joy up and take her with us.

Our journey had only just begun!

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