Epic Celebrations and More Stories of Change
January 31, 2018

Dear friends and family,

We hope that you are doing well. May you be encouraged by these recent events and stories detailed in the following articles by our IT Tender staff.

"Double the Fun"
by Jizza Malquisto

Indeed, that wonderful time of the year arrived when kids and kids-at-heart are gathered to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ in the most colorful and fun way imaginable. This time, the snow from the previous year’s IT Tender Christmas Party has melted, and we were transported to a beautiful garden we called “Sucatlandia” (in the Sucat community). The Tender team built white fences with a faux grass carpet to create the garden theme that inspired this Christmas party. With the largest number of participants to date, 200 children and youth arrived jumping up and down like excited sheep waiting to roam the “fields of games and crafts”.

A lot of surprises happened for this epic party. Before the actual party, we had our “pre-party orientation" on November 25th where we gathered all the children and also shared a Bible message presentation called “Jesus, the Star of Christmas” led by the youth volunteers whom we sponsor through Sponsor-A-Child. This was our way to ensure that the children would know the details of the party and will learn message of Christmas, which is the most important of all.

Finally, the most-awaited party of the year happened on November 30th. Youth volunteers prepared fun games and great prizes to open the program. This fun start was followed by introductions of our two beautiful emcees who charmed their way into the hearts of the children and the visitors. Cecille, our children’s ministry teacher, and Theresa, one of the Sponsor-A-Child youth volunteers, were dressed as fairies and magically added more life to the party.  An IT Tender Christmas party would not be complete without the volunteers from Extreme Response USA who have been celebrating with us for many years now. They not only played with our kids but also rendered two dance numbers. The first one was a collaboration with our youth volunteers, and the second was their own special presentation to the tune of the popular action song “Baby Shark”. We also enjoyed the presence of not just one mascot but two fun-loving friends: Jollibee (a beloved fast-food character) and Hetty (Jollibee's companion). There were also some comebacks that we missed in the previous year that returned, such as Sir Vernon Tapp’s Magic Show, one of the visitors from the Extreme Response team, and our beloved Mamang Sorbetero (a Filipino ice cream vendor).

The ministry was so blessed to have the Sponsor-A-Child youth volunteers as part of the team. For the staff and visitors from Extreme Response, seeing our youth practically run the show was the highlight of the day. These youth were once just seated and attending the Christmas Parties, but now they are serving the children and leading our events. Truly, God did not just shower the children with His love through fun activities, yummy meals and gifts, but He also empowered the youth to take the lead and to overcome the poverty and stigma of being looked down on in the past. We are looking forward to seeing the children who attended the Christmas Party grow in Christ and to discover that in Him they can achieve their full potential. To God be all the glory!

"A Day to Enjoy and Feel Beautiful"
by Jonalyn Rivera

Every year we have a special Christmas party for the mothers from the community. This event makes them feel rewarded for all the time and dedication they give to their families year-round. In past years, the party has been simple, as the mothers are happy simply to enjoy their day together. This year however was the first time we had visitors from the U.S. to celebrate with us. The American team prepared a beauty-makeover session for the mothers. Over 30 mothers received pampering through a hand massage, hair spa, facial massage, nail polishing and make-up. They also enjoyed singing karaoke, exchanging gifts, and eating food prepared by the mothers. Before the party began, we opened with a prayer and some introductions, sharing the Word of God with the mothers.

During the festivities, the mothers awaiting their turn for the makeover stayed downstairs to sing karaoke while the others were upstairs getting pampered. Every mother that came from upstairs would say they are so glad because they are just having fun singing, feeling beautiful, and being pampered for the first time. They said they had never experienced just sitting and relaxing while others gave them a makeover because motherhood makes them busy.  They had forgotten to make time for themselves. They said that it is good to have some fun once in a while.

We are thankful to God for giving us the privilege of seeing the mothers enjoy their own Christmas party that day. We are thankful to the staff and visitors from Extreme Response for giving their time to visit and give the mothers a special day to just enjoy and be beautiful.

"From the Streets to the Schools"
by John Coffey

One of the most powerful testimonies of change comes from IT Tender's sponsor child Jace. This story has been shared in churches and groups across Ontario during our speaking tour at the end of 2017. If you have not yet had the opportunity to hear Jace's inspiring story, we are blessed to share it again here.

When we first met Jace in 2012, him and his family were living on the street under an overpass. His father had recently passed away of a heart attack, and since the father was the breadwinner of the family, they experienced extreme poverty after his passing. Upon meeting the family, we invited Jace to join our Night Life evening program. His sister Jasmine then joined our preschool, and his single mother Precila brought their youngest sibling Jovan to our early childhood program. Soon thereafter, we were able to find a donor to support Jace to go to school through our Sponsor-A-Child program. Jace was delighted to have the opportunity to get an education. Because we were easing a financial burden for the family by supporting their children's education, all of Precila's income as a street vendor could now support the food and shelter of the family. They were thus able to move from the streets into a simple shanty in one of target communities called "Napocor".

Tragically though, in 2017 the entire Napocor community was destroyed by a fire. Nobody was seriously injured, but along with 50 other families, Jace and his family lost their home and all of their possessions. IT Tender assisted the families by providing extensive relief kits with bedding, food, clothing, cooking utensils, and much more. The families moved temporarily into a packed, outdoor evacuation center. Since the evacuation center was very full and children were getting bitten by mosquitos throughout the evenings, IT Tender sheltered many of the children at our drop-in center for a few weeks.

Jace could have understandably been quite down and dejected after losing their home. Nevertheless, at this time Jace gladly asked the Tender staff if he could volunteer and help out more. He began tutoring the younger children staying at our drop-in center. He also began regularly attending our Sunday worship services with his family. Shortly thereafter, Jace asked to be baptized. He shared his testimony with the community about how faithful God has been in his life - bringing people to provide for his education and look after his family. We couldn't be more proud of the growth and maturity Jace exhibited in the wake of the disaster in his community.

God is indeed faithful in Jace's life. Thanks to some generous donors, we were able to find a new house for Jace and his family. We also helped them convert the front of the home into a convenience store for the mother to run and to cover their daily expenses. They are truly grateful to have a home, and Jace has a bright future thanks to those who support his education.