Local missionary remembers children during Philippines journey
On a mission trip to the Philippines, Eudora resident Anna Besser experienced a one-on-one encounter with baby Moses.
Moses was found floating in a basket in a river in Manila. He was taken to the orphanage where Besser was a volunteer.
"Such a sweet little guy," Besser said.
He was one of several children Besser established connections with during her two-week stay on the island nation that began May 26. She went with a nine-person group from the Elm Grove Baptist Church near Bonner Springs. Besser's twin sister, Eleanor Shearin, was also in the group.
In addition to the twins, who were the oldest members of the group, several teenagers were among the volunteers, including Tim DeArmond and Elizabeth Hoese, both from Eudora.
"We were quite a group," Besser said.
The missionaries met up with two former church members who were already established in the Philippines. The group spent a week lending a hand at a local orphanage and taught the local children at a Bible school.
"It's awful hard on them little kids, not having a mother and father, but they're much loved," Besser said.
The Bible classes were very popular, Besser said, but space was limited.
"We'd have to lock the door because we'd have like 1,500 kids in there," she said.
The older locals also were interested in the faith. The group attended service at a quaint little church, Besser said. She knew some phrases, but the service was given in the native Tagalog.
She found the people hungry for faith and hungry in general.
"Those kids out there get nothing; they're just so poor," Besser said. "When you take a sack, they know it's bread."
Her duties at the orphanage included overseeing the youngsters as they cleaned out the lunchroom.
"The little orphan kids are really responsible," Besser said. "They set the table, and they do the dishes. They watch the little kids and want to help out."
The youngsters were also fascinated by the similarity between Besser and her sister.
"They thought it was something when me and my sister would dress alike," she said.
The children would often follow her and her sister around, she said.
The youngsters were excited by the fact the two looked so much alike, Besser said.
During the second week, the group had the opportunity to experience some of the natural beauty of the Philippines.
Besser took a boat ride to Malawa and stayed at a beach.
"It's very, very beautiful, I tell you. I'd seen pictures like that, but I'd never seen that."
The rocks were so smooth one could walk barefoot on them, she said.
The beautiful scenery wasn't the biggest thing that stuck out from her trip.
"The children were the biggest thing ---- their little faces, their hands. They're so excited about Americans," Besser said.
Especially little Moses and a girl she met named Diana, she said.
"I liked her: she liked me," Besser said.
Besser remembered how the children huddled around her and the group when the time came for them to go home.
"They just loved us," Besser said. "It just got your heart. You want to bring them back."