NAVOTAS City, March 19, 2016 – Those who think “French faith” sounds like the opening phrase of a bad joke have yet to meet couple Charles and Elise Cruse.
Bidding their First World home adieu, the husband and wife from wine-rich Bordeaux have decided to stay in the Philippines for good to heed the call of mission, and that means being parents to local orphans.
While it’s biologically impossible for them to build a family, the Cruses don’t see it as reason enough to lose hope, let alone to blame God for their fate.
Quite the opposite. In fact, they have come to find meaning in loving and in looking after kids who had only known abandonment and neglect.
Childless parents, parentless children
Not long after they tied the knot in 2006, they were already thinking of ways to grow in their marriage despite their inability to have kids of their own.
“Part of our decision [to be missionaries] is because we don’t have children, so we are thinking how we can be parents or something like that,” shared Elise, who took a time off organizing a recent party for the children of Tulay ng Kabataan (TnK).
Of course, leaving behind the comforts and security of France on the invitation of their countrymen, Fr. Matthieu Dauchez, TnK’s executive director, wasn’t all that easy. But they soon realized it would be totally worth it.
“This experience [is] great for us, very fruitful for us,” Elise noted.
According to them, they learn from the children more than the latter learn from them.
Theology of the Hamburger
This proved true years back when they were out treating a bunch of street children to perhaps the first decent meal they had in a long time.
One of them did not dare eat his hamburger but kept it nonetheless, prompting the Cruses to ask, “Why don’t you eat it? I know for you it is rare so you’ll like it.”
The child hurriedly stood up and left the fast food restaurant without a word.
Puzzled, the couple ran after the boy only to see him handing over his untouched hamburger to another street child.
If there’s one encounter Charles and Elise will never forget as long as they live, it is this: the night a child whose name they could not even recall taught them what most grownups know but hardly live out.
Their French faith has found a home on Filipino soil. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)