Leeane G. -the first Heart’s Home volunteer to come from Australia- is back home in Melbourne after a fourteen-month mission in Manila.
Here is part of the letter she wrote to share her last months of mission with her sponsors and friends.
“My last month in the Philippines was January. For weeks, with every invitation we gave out to our farewell party, our friends would look at me and sigh and say, “Leeanne, is it fourteen months already? So soon! Stay longer!”
Goodbyes are hard. They bring up a store of thoughts, and with each friend it’s tempting to wonder, what have I done for you in the last fourteen months? We have argued with doctors and nurses and social workers on their behalf, we have exhausted lists of organisations as we looked for help, but when it comes down to it, we came and witnessed the poverty of our friends and I leave and there is little that changes. And still, they look at me and say, “Stay with us!”
In the farewell messages spoken to me at my ‘despidida’, and carefully written in the surprise book I read at the Manila airport with my heart pounding at with the thought of coming home, this is what my friends told me: ’’Thank you for inviting my child to your house on her birthday for spaghetti.” "Thank you for staying with my mother at the hospital." “Thank you for coming all the way from your country to live in our looban.” "Thank you for loving our children."
The surprise is that our friends understand our mission far better than we do. Never counting or assessing what we have done, but carefully storing in their memories and hearts the times we accompanied them, and celebrated with them and mourned with them. This is what friends do.
How do I be thankful enough that our friends welcomed me into their lives? How do I be thankful enough for each warm hug from the children, and their goofy observations about our life at Tahanang Puso- Heart’s Home in Tagalog-?
Lots of you ask me when you see me, how have I changed? And it’s hard to answer except for this, "That I am richer because in the Philippines I was loved and I loved".
The children are in my heart. And my prayer is a little of their love that comes through to the people I meet every day here in Melbourne."