April 9, 2018

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June 1, 2011

Someone will come

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:18 am by leonefamily

Perfect timing… Not too long ago I was frustrated with the incredible length of time that Rose Anne’s adoption process was taking.  You see, Rose Anne went to the states with her two little brothers with an orphan hosting program almost  two years ago.  The hosting parents couldn’t help but fall in love with all of them.   So they started the paperwork to bring them home.  Why did it take so long for their paperwork to be shuffled from one desk to another?  I don’t know. I do know that it was perfect timing for Rose Anne and her best friend, Vanessa to have an exceptional year of  preparations for transitioning.  These two girls have been best friends from the start at the Children’s Home.

Our last book spoke to their pasts and gave hope for their futures in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo.  In this story, a young china rabbit experiences life and relationships with difficult transitions and much loss.  I was encouraged by the girls’ favorite part of the book.  Edward the rabbit is sitting on the shelf of a doll store after passing through many hands of different owners over many years.

“The old doll said, “I wonder who will come for me this time.  Someone will come.  Someone always comes.  Who will it be?”

“I don’t care if anyone comes for me,” said Edward.

“But that’s dreadful,” said the doll.  “There’s no point of going on if you feel that way.  No point at all.  You must be filled with expectancy.  You must be awash in hope.  You must wonder who will love you, who you will love next.”

“I’m done with being loved,” Edward told her.  “I’m done with loving.  It’s too painful.”

“Pish,” said the doll.  “Where is your courage?”

You see, there is hope in the hearts of these sweet girls and courage beyond measure.  The weeks leading up to Rose Anne’s departure was bitter sweet.  Vanessa was able to plan a surprise party with all of her friends and honor her with words of blessings and encouragement.  Rose Anne has left with her family, but God didn’t leave her best friend behind without hope.  Before saying goodbye, these best friends know they will see each other in the states because now Vanessa too has a family pursuing her for adoption.

It’s with a heavy heart that I plan to say goodbye to this incredible chapter of my life. My cliffhangers are  Joan, Maria Fe, and Donna.  Someone will come.

Our reading club has been so much more than books.  It’s been laughter, questioning, relaxation, escape, learning, growing, difficult discussions, dreaming, parenting, celebrating, crying, eating, and hugging.  Books brought us together,  but our conversations and transparency weaved a beautiful friendship.

May you have hope, faith, and courage to love the people that God has placed in your life today.


April 6, 2011


Posted in Uncategorized at 11:11 pm by leonefamily

We recently found that four of the construction workers live with their partners but were never married.  The obvious response to this is clearly “let’s start a marriage seminar and lets get these people married.”  Every Friday night for the past three weeks, we  serve 20 couples dinner, then we share 15 to 20 minutes of marriage advice from things we’ve learned over the years.  Before we started the Friday night date night, we pitched the idea to the men, they laughed and said “we’ve never been on a date with our wives, why start now?”  We convinced them that they would have a good time and that they would grow in their marriage.  The first Friday they all showed up, decked out in ties and dresses, they really took this date night serious.   We set up tables for two with candle light and watched as they strolled in nervously.  The men walked in 10 to 15 feet ahead of their wives and sat down before the women even had a chance to enter the building.  Once everyone was sitting, dead silence, they didn’t have a word to share with their spouses.  It was difficult to watch the men that I’ve grown to care for, not know how to love their wives but I’ve learned to thank God in advance for His wonderful plan and He gave me a vision of how beautiful our last date night together would be, I imagine the couples walking in laughing, holding hands, gazing into each other eyes as the gentleman pull out the chair of his beloved, I’ll send

pictures.  Last week Angie and I shared the five love languages

with them.  In preparation we tried to think of effective ways to teach without overwhelming them with information.  Angie and I along with our best friends here and our most faithful partners decided that short and comical video clips would best get the point across.  Attached is a short video clip we

shared with them.

December 23, 2010

Tears of joy and sorrow

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:48 pm by leonefamily

I blessed each window and every door, I said “Amen” before I moved on to the next,  twenty Filipinos followed me and echoed “Amen”.  We spent the day moving Eddy and his family into their new home and tonight we were blessing it.

I work with a team of ten Filipino men, all of which live illegally in squatter homes made of any scrap they can find.  At any given time the government or the property owner can ask them to move along; this has happened to three of the men I work with in the five months that I’ve been here.  My dream while I’m here is to raise funds and bring in enough teams to provide a new, legal home for each of these men, a home they can call their own with confidence.

On October 29th. K2 the Church arrived with funds and willing hands, we tore down Eddy’s single story tin home and started rebuilding with plans to double their space with a second story.  We’re going to take this baby from 225 square feet to 500 square feet.  K2 left with the house well under way, two weeks later 16 teens from a Hong Kong church “the Vine” arrived to carry on the project, two weeks after that 30 from Perth Australia joined in.  On a few Saturdays  between teams, I would show up to work with the Filipino team, They would laugh and say “what are you doing, sir, you are the boss” I replied  “not today, today I’d like to be a mason, can you teach me?”  That day our relationship became real and through the months they have become my Filipino brothers.  Two weeks ago, these ten men asked Jesus to take over their lives and they were baptized.

So tonight we all stand in Eddy’s new home as we ask Jesus to be the ruler of this new home and this new family.

That night was filled with celebration and many tears of joy.  At 10:30 that same night as I lay in bed I received a text “Tirso’s daughter has gone home ” I got out of bed and raced over to Tirso’s house.  I found all the same men that just hours ago were celebrating and shedding tears of joy, and now were shedding tears of sorrow for their friend Tirso.  Tirso’s daughter, Alanamay’s body lay lifeless on the floor as her father held her hand.  Alanamay was a frail young girl who never had the ability to run, play and laugh like all children do.  Alanamay’s  life was controled by and taken by cerebral palsy.  This evening I saw a blessing as her suffering ended.  I closed my eyes and had a vision of Alanamay running into the arms of Jesus as He said “come on home little girl”.   Freedom!

My heart breaks for Tirso and his family and I’m honored that I’ve been accepted and that I’m welcome to sit on his floor and cry tears of sorrow with him, tonight I was truly his brother, I wasn’t a rich American that could provide funding for his home or pay for his medical bills.  I could only offer my friendship.

To our supporters, this is all possible first because God lead us here and then because you were faithful in responding to His call of generosity.  Our lives are so full of blessings here, so full that they are spilling over to all those that we spen our days with.  Thank you for your love, prayers and support.

God bless your Christmas season

The Leone Family

November 10, 2010

Big Serving of Hope for Joy

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:41 pm by leonefamily

This is a story of one of our supporters obedience to God’s nudging.

Our first visit to the relocation camp 4 months ago was a heart wrenching experience.  We were feeding children and through this a friend that helped us transition in Manila struck up a conversation with a girl named Joy.   Our friend and Joy dug right into sharing their stories.  Shockingly,  Joy was a first semester college student but wasn’t able to return after Typhoon Ondoy hit in September of 2009.  Our friend asked if she could bring Joy anything to ease the suffering surrounding her at the camp.  Of all things Joy requested was Shakespeare.  Fortunately, we just happened to ship over 14,000 books.  We sifted  through boxes and finally found Shakespeare.  Upon returning, our friend was able to spend more time with Joy and hear more of her story.

One month later, we invited Joy and her mother to join us at our condo for rice, chicken, and hope.  Hope was the biggest and sweetest dish served.  Our friend, who first approached Joy, was obedient to God’s nudging to support Joy in her college career. We were able to Skype her and Joy was able to thank her in the virtual world.  How surreal? Reader, it gets better.  Located next door to K.I.M. is a seminary that offers housing to enrolled students.  We shared Joy’s story with the administration and they agreed to make an exception, Joy would be welcome to room at the seminary.  The price is unbelievable for American standards. Tuition, boarding, and school supplies for a year total $1,000.  School starts November 14th.  

An unexpected chapter has been added to this story.  A new life is growing inside Joy. Full of shame, fear and tears Joy shared with me her state as we visited the camp last week.   The boyfriend has left.  It is not common in her world for a pregnant woman to go to school.  She was convinced her hopes were shattered.  We have urged Joy to continue in her dreams of finishing college.  Joy was sure that we, as “good Christians” would reject her for her sin.  Sharing Jesus and providing for the education of a model student is easy, but when it gets this messy, this is when we really get to show off Jesus.  Pray with us as we ask that God will give her wisdom, endurance and guidance in her walk with Him.

Quick update: Joy arrived today at the KIM Ministry Center. The Seminary was uneasy accepting her into the dorms in her condition. Joy will now be loved on and cared for directly by living at the KIM Center while she attends college.  Can’t wait to share more of her story as it unfolds….

October 27, 2010

The Visitors

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:25 pm by leonefamily

First annual K2/K.I.M. fun run

First annual K2/K.I.M. fun run

How do you sum up in a few paragraphs the impact that 17 people have on an impoverished community in six days?

After a 19 hour flight from Salt Lake City, Utah 17 people from our home church arrived at the soupy Manila international airport. 

Key words that define the trip: Rice,  sweat, sleep (lack there of), building, patience, worship, laughter, coffee, sweat, feedings, basketball, prostitutes? Rice, sweat, cockroach  massage (roach po).  Did I mention a lot of rice and a lot of sweating?


We chose three families that have come close to our hearts in the past four months. 

Ate Susan has three children living in a 10 foot by 10 foot space along with her husband.  They sleep on a  floor made of decaying plywood that could give at anytime.  Within half an hour we widdled our 10 opinions of what needed to happen into a single solution.  The old floor was removed and within two days the room had a new perimeter foundation and a freshly poured concrete floor.

Danny is one of our regular construction workers at Kids International Ministries. This week our team constructed new partition walls for the two bedrooms and the restroom.  Mike R. and Preston W. laid the block, the 3″ wave in the wall was part of the design, wink wink.  I went by Danny’s house this morning after he had applied the plaster.  I asked how much plaster was required to make the wall look as perfectly plumb as it did.  They all laughed and said 3″ sir, it’s usually 1/2″ thick. 

Eddie is also a construction worker with Kids International Ministries.  He is a promising leader and is hosting a men’s fellowship and bible studies at his house.  Eddie’s house is a legal residence, therefore we felt comfortable throwing in a few extra dollars to build up a second floor, this will allow the men participating to comfortably fit in his living room. 

Malaybalay is the second Kids International Ministry orphanage on the southern island of Mindanao.  Friday at 4:00 a.m. in morning we were up and on the road towards the airport.  One and a half hour flight and a two hour drive later we arrived to the rural, mountainous site.  Jeremy runs the orphanage, he called me the day before and asked if we could design and build a sanctuary with donated bamboo.  “You bet, we have a day and a half with nothing to do but roll 1000 meatballs for the feeding tomorrow.”  Would you believe that when we left the site at 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning, we had 18 bamboo columns erected and supported by concrete and two courses of block outlining the perimeter walls for the pastors two bedroom living space and an office?


We talked a lot about the library before we left, through those discussions we collected 15,000 books.  The library is complete and we had the pleasure of sharing in the grand opening and blessing of the children with our K2 family.  The library will provide the children with a space of their own where they can learn, grow and dream. 


“Where were you last week?  No one has come.”  This was our greeting as we arrived for a feeding at a relocation camp.  Our pantry is usually stalked with Kids Against Hunger rice packets, but we ran out four days before the second K2 container arrived.  K2 has now replenished the pantry.  The team has been able to see the entire process from preparing, packing, sending, and now feeding hungry children. Feedings happen twice a day at different locations in the surrounding area.  

The team was able to participate in numerous feedings as well as laugh a little.  As we were walking through the squatter village, Mike R. spotted a basketball court.  Within minutes Mike had two teams ready for a game, three, 5′-0″ Filipinos against three, 6′-6″  Americans.  The community gathered and we soon had a large croud of people shouting and laughing as the Americans blocked shots by simply raising their hands. 

In the end the size of the Americans was no match for the Filipinos who danced around the Americans as if it was a rehearsed ballet. 

What is important isn’t how many homes we built, how many people we fed or who won the basketball game.  Building, food and basketball are all vehicles that allow us to get into people’s lives.  Once we’re in, the real work starts, the display of  Christ’s love for them, this week that love was in its full glory.  Thank you K2.

September 14, 2010

Whining, Praise, and Prayer

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:32 pm by leonefamily

We finished our first book, wahoo!

I wake up with a greasy face from the nights sticky sleep and walk myself to the kitchen counter for some water.  Ants, ants, ants,  tiny ones that run faster than you can smash.  I go to the refrigerator.  Broken again.  Hmmm, must eat all the perishables today.  Take a shower with no water pressure, more like a drizzle at best. I complain and whine in my head. 

Then Carmine calls me with prayer requests; sick infant being dropped off at the children’s home today, pregnant mother getting check ups and will be releasing custody at birth, families in need of formula, and money needed to pay for a hospital bill for a sweet child.  I’m high then I’m low again and so the cycle goes.   It is only noon.  It’s a good thing that I don’t sit in any emotion long enough to wear it.  Things change constantly around here.  There is a plan for the day, but that plan changes like the colors in the setting sun.

The days are crazy but some things are a constant.  We all rise and eat together as a family at 6:00 (yikes this is a new routine for us) Luca goes to Faith Academy and Marco attends two half days.  Carmine continues to work on the construction management of the library and spending time with the builders and teen boys.  I meet with the teen girls twice a week for book club.  When the weekend rolls around, it’s time for basketball games with the children and church with the teens downtown. 

I am so blessed with the amazing connections that are being made in the book club with the teen girls.  We start out by making a snack at my condo.  The girls have learned to make crepes and cut pineapples.  While some are cooking, others are busy making tea, taking videos or pictures of each other or Avi.  It’s great to have some relaxed hang time outside of the children’s home. 

One month has passed and we have finished Because of Winn Dixie.  I wasn’t quite sure if there would be much to connect with because this is about a girl who takes in a stray dog.  Stray dogs are very common and look like a walking door of death and fleas.   There is not an instant warming when talking about strays. However the book is rich in content with relationships about old and young, abandonment, grace, alcoholism, melancholy and joyful emotions.  We were glued to the pages and devoured the words like a great banquet. Some of the favorite quotes and discussions have been made from the following;

“You know, my eyes ain’t too good at all.  I can’t see nothing but the general shape of things, so I got to rely on my heart. Why don’t you go on and tell me everything about yourself, so as I can see you with my heart.”

I didn’t go to sleep right away.  I lay there and thought how life was like a Littmus Lozenge, how the sweet and the sad were all mixed up together and how hard it was to separate them out.  It was confusing.

Gloria says that you can’t hold on to anything. That you can only love what you’ve got while you’ve got it.  

Applauding occurred when the last word was read.  It was sweet to celebrate the completion of our first chapter book together. We ventured out to Starbucks for journaling more about the book and the personal connections made.  It was fun to see them study the menu and choose a special drink to sip. It is my hope and deep desire that we would grow closer together and foster a lifelong love of reading excellent books!

“Dear God, thank you for warm summer nights and candlelight and good food.  But thank you most of all for friends.  We appreciate the complicated and wonderful gifts you give us in each other.  And we appreciate the task you put down before us, of loving each other the best we can, even as you love us.  We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.”

Because of Winn Dixie by Katie DiCamillo

August 9, 2010

Struggles, Relationships and work

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:50 pm by leonefamily

Our struggles

I pulled up to an open field late at night and she says “Okay, right here sir.”  She left the car and walked off into what seemed like a dense field of shrubs.  Her name is Grace and she watched our three children tonight while I went out with the boys and Angie went to a womans bible study.  At an attempt to feed our American comforts, we had dinner at TGI Fridays and then saw “Salt”  My struggle and purpose for sharing this story is that my night out cost me about $15.  When I got home and met Grace, I found out that A full days minimum wage for a Filipino is 280 pesos which equals just under $6.  Grace feeds her family of five on 280 php a day and I just spent $15 bucks on myself for the sake of entertainment.  My American “savior” mentality wanted to give Grace $20 for her three hours of service but I was warned that this would upset the balance of issues that I don’t yet understand.  I slipped Grace 300 php for the night and dropped her off.  When we left SLC, I felt that we were giving up so much, when my life collides with people like Grace, I’m reminded that I haven’t given up anything.  Grace sent us a text the following day, “Thanks ur trust me to care ur sons and Avi sir, ur blessing bcauz I dont have work, Grace”

Our Relationships

The children that live at the KIM children’s home have quickly accepted us and refer to us in the Filipino endearing term of tito and tita.  They are accustomed to having visitors and even people that spend a year but they rarely see a family function as a unit.  Angie and I have decided that this is one thing we have to share so we continuously show them how we live as a family and we try to include them in our lives, individually if we can and if not as a group.  We recently loaded up into Jeepny’s and went to a basketball game with all of them and had a wonderful afternoon together. 

Personally, Angie meets with a group of five young girls and I meet with a group of four young boys.  KIM is committed to providing the children with the skills required to live a healthy, self sustaining life.  That means that KIM follows through into the children’s teen years.  The five girls and four boys I mentioned above have started their teen years so KIM has moved them out of the children’s home and placed them in an apartment like setting in the basement of the guest house.  Angie and I are committed to these young people by continuing to lead and train them in a God honoring life.  Angie has started a book club with the girls.  The goal is to share a story together, have a cup of coffee and for Angie to honor these young women by showing them what it looks like to be a woman outside a children’s home situation.  I’ll be teaching the boys bible stories, how to pray for their surroundings and most importantly, how to treat and honor the women that surround them and the girls that will soon be coming into their lives.

Angie and I went to visit the doctor the other day, as we left the medical center the weather was great, within 20 minutes a typhoon hit.  We spent the next two hours sitting in our car surrounded by the newly formed river that surrounded us.  The Filipinos accept this as part of their lives and they seem to enjoy it, the kids especially enjoy it, many took off their shirts and went for a swim.  As things started to move, I literally had to maneuver around these swimmers. 

Our Work

Before we left SLC we collected 12,00o books and shipped them over along with our personals.  With the news of the arriving books, donors stepped up and the design for a library began.  By the time we arrived the first floor was complete and the second floor concrete pad had been poured.  We threw the construction guys off a bit because they are accustomed to building squares.  We decided that we wanted to create something that would visually allow the children connect with on the exterior of the building and allow them to take ownership.  We designed three individual reading nooks that puncture the exterior wall.  We plan on finishing the exterior of the nooks in a Gaudiesk style, we’ll invite the children to participate in collecting colorful dishes and throwing them into a large container, we’ll then attached the broken dishes to the exterior wall.  I’d never get away with this in the states.  Our real work of course is pouring into the lives of the people that surround us.  I meet with the construction workers three times a week for a fifteen minute bible study.  The first day we met they asked me to share my testimony with them.  What could I share with them that would connect us, I thought.  Then God reminded me that we all have wives, we all have children and we were all created be the same awesome God. 

July 23, 2010

Cockroaches, Cold Showers and Coffee

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:24 pm by leonefamily

I thought transitioning to life in Manila would be easier…. Don’t get me wrong, I prepared my family for this endeavor.  We had a team just to get me on the plane. 

TRAVELING: Tearful goodbyes all week and at the airport.  I gave up on make up the last week.  Emotionally, I felt like a soggy noodle. Paula packed a bag of wrapped toys for the boys to open every hour on the 18 hour trip. God bless Paula! Three planes later I was ready for anyone to take my kiddos as my head kept nodding off in sporadic jerks. Kristy also packed a bottle of Melatonin to assist my kiddos with sleeping.  THANK YOU! 

PREPARING: Team arrived and started cleaning and painting our condo.  Linda took two days to scrub the bathroom.  The pollution really does a duty on things. Scrapping layers upon layers of paint consumed a lot of the time. Painted everything sunny yellow.  I am hoping that this happy color will keep my spirits up. Boys got a blue room and bunk beds.  They are so stoked! Everyone on the team totally worked their hearts out, turning the condo into a home. Lots of sweat, gatorade, and cold showers for everyone. 

SERVING: The team was able to serve and see many ministries in the Philippines. The Children’s Home at KIM, serving food that was packaged by K2ers for a relocation camp for the poor, designing and building a chair for a young girl to assist in her breathing, Samaritana, Threads of Hope, and many others.  We will be going into more detail in the following posts. The children here are beautiful and full of hope.

SETTLING: Saying goodbye again.  This time to our team.  They all  left at various times making it easier to transition into our new world.  First typhoon came and passed without worry.  6 cockroaches down!  I’m getting great at stomping and I’m thinking of keeping a tally mark system on the washing room wall. The geckos in my kitchen aren’t too bad.  Supposedly, they eat all of the other bugs. 

BOOKS AND STARBUCKS: One of the things that broke my heart about the Russian orphans were that there was no hope for them after they left the children’s home.  Here at KIM, it’s different.  KIM is dedicated to each child, no matter what it takes.  They have their first group of 4 pre-teen girls who are transitioning from the younger living quarters to a more independent living situation.  The girls have moved into the basement of the guest house at KIM and will be learning how to do their own laundry and other life skills.  We were going through boxes of the donated books to try and find something for them to read in their free time.  I was amazed.  I take for granted each and every story that has been placed in my heart.  As I opened each box, my heart lept with joy to share my thoughts on each book.  One of the girls asked about Helen Keller.  She was shocked to hear that her story was true.  So now I am planning on doing a book club with these sweet young ladies.  Going again to my books for security in the humidity of Manila.

Carmine is already incredibly busy! The library is up and he is designing the interior space. Looking forward to posting pics and having him share more about this amazing story.

Transitioning…. is teaching me to start letting myself be honest about my emotions and needs. I’m learning to accept help and be uncomfortable.  God is working on my heart perspective.  Seeing things beautiful in the mess….

Thanks for your prayers.

They are lifting us up.

Please continue to pray.



April 14, 2010

My Security Blanket

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:33 am by leonefamily

I started teaching 6th grade in 97′.   Armed with books from my inherited grandmother’s library I set forth.  My security was in a wall of shelves lined with books.  Did I know these books?  No…  But knowing they were there provided me  an “I can do it” attitude.  4 years later Carmine and I moved to Raleigh so he could go to grad school.  Again armed with boxes of books I felt prepared to take on the 4th grade Carolinians.  2 years later we returned to SLC and I jumped into a job share position.  My co-teacher nearly had a coronary with my collection of books (we are now dear friends by the grace of God.)  Where did this strange sense of security of books come from?  I do not know… But books have always provided me with an indirect relationship with others and a world beyond.  I can always talk to a child when I have a book in hand.  It is my gateway to a personal connection. 

So, what does a teacher do when she is moving to a foreign country?  Pack precious items, right? You got it.  Our family is being blessed by numerous communities in the Salt Lake Valley that will be laying the foundation for the first library in Manila specifically for the children that live in the slums.  This idea grew from a trip to the downtown library one day.  I was mourning the loss of our amazing public library system.  Carmine suggested that I stop mourning losses and start dreaming about how to bring our passions to the children of Manila.   That quick discussion with my husband has now grown into a full fledge book drive.  The donated books will be ship in two weeks along with our personal belongings and 150,000 prepackaged meals on a donated container.  We had no idea what or where or how we were going to provide this library, but we just received a call from Jeff at KIM.  He was in a meeting with some friends that also happen to be land owners late last night.  They heard about the books coming and our ideas for a children’s library.  would you believe that we have a donated parcel of land and $10,000 for construction costs?   Do you remember that Kevin Costner film that said if you build it they will come? 

So people have asked me aren’t you worried about lending books to children in the slums?  No.  If a book is taken home and never returned, it has done its job.  A child that loves a book will want more.  What a wonderful worry.  A book is a powerful thing.  I have had the greatest joy hearing from a student from my first 6th grade class.  She is now in Ethiopia serving the people there affected by HIV – Aids.  Her passion was lit by a single spark from a book in my first classroom library.  Wow.  I’m speechless. She is loving and serving and changing the world.  One book can do wonders.  My security blanket is coming with me again in this next chapter in life.  Thanks to everyone that is changing the world one book at a time.

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