Update from the Philippines
Today is one week since I arrived in the Philippines, and I can’t thank you all enough for your prayers and encouragement!! Leaving was very emotional for me and the transition here was difficult at first, but your prayers have carried me through… God has been so faithful in giving me the strength I need for each day and quickly bringing alongside me many wonderful friends. After just a week, I can already say that I am falling in love with this country and its people!
The flight here was very long… 13hrs from Detroit to Tokyo and then another 4hrs from Tokyo to Manila. So although we left Indianapolis on Tuesday morning, we did not get to the Philippines until10:30pm Wednesday night (10:30am US time). When we arrived we were immediately immersed in the culture as we were hit with a wall of heat and humidity upon leaving the airport, and maneuvered through crowds of people and crazy traffic to get to the Guest House at the church (where we will stay for the first 2 months). I, of course, had Tom and Bill do a quick spider check before leaving us for the night and the only squatter we found was a small Gecko, who I thought was pretty cute!
ANYWAY… we spent our first day on the ground touring Faith Fellowship Church and meeting all the amazing people who work here. Afterward, we went to the Kennedy’s (OMS missionaries) house for dinner and they introduced us to some fun ice cream flavors that we don’t have in the states, like cheese and sweet potato, and they were actually really good! Even though I was still recovering from Jet-lag and fell asleep on their couch, it was so nice to spend time with them and another OMS missionary here named, Gary Myers.
On Friday, I met with the Dean of Faith Bible College to go over the semester schedule and my course curriculum. She was very nice and had a lot of great experience that I hope to learn from as I teach my course. Afterward, the Kennedy’s daughter took us on our first Jeepney ride!!
The Jeepney is one of the most common forms of transportation in Manila – there are thousands of them everywhere and they are always packed full of people because they are very cheap to ride! They are always an experience, but soon enough I will be able to ride one on my own as I will be traveling back and forth to language school several times a week!
My favorite time so far though had to be on Sunday when we got to see some of the ministries that are going on here through Faith Fellowship and OMS. We started the day by traveling out to a province for an outreach ministry to street kids and squatters called, New Beginnings. The children were beautiful and so loving. It was a blessing to be able to spend that time with them even though we couldn’t communicate and just laugh, sing, color, and hold them. They (and their families) are the ones most at risk here… and I hope to continue working within this ministry to meet whatever needs there are among the vulnerable or hurting women and children within this community.
Afterward, we went to the worship service at Faith Fellowship. I think it is always incredible to gather with a body of believers in another country and culture and praise God together… the time was full of His presence. Later that afternoon we went to another province to visit a church plant that was celebrating 9 years of fellowship, where more than 50 people were crammed into a 10x10 room at 100 degrees to worship and hear Gods Word - it was amazing and such a privilege to be a part of.
One thing we are trying to do as we begin is to meet with other organizations that are already established and working in anti-human trafficking here in the Philippines. On Monday, we were blessed to meet with a woman who leads the YWAM ministry to prostitutes in here… she herself a former prostitute had an amazing testimony of Gods redemption and love… and may be one outside organization that we are able to learn from and work with as we get started and try to understand how HOPE61 can best serve the needs of this country. The rest of the day was spent building relationships and enjoying new friends, learning more about the culture, and just adjusting to life here as a missionary. Everyone I have met has been truly great and I am so excited to be able to come alongside the Filipino people in their ministries – to serve with them and spread the Gospel with them.
The Philippines is breath-taking; they have scaling mountains, beautiful beaches and shading palm trees –they have unbelievable volcanos, awe inspiring rice terraces, big cities and beautiful homes. But the beauty that has so captivated me here is one that rests against a backdrop that most would never use the word “beautiful” to describe. In Quezon City, I am in a place where things are not quiet or ever still –where the smells are not always pleasant and things aren’t always pretty; where countless people call “home” places that would never qualify to be defined of such; where rivers don’t always flow with clean water and the streets aren’t clear of trash… and yet despite all this – it radiates with a unique beauty; a beauty that exists outside the traditional wealth that is also here and natural wonders that command His praise. Rather, it’s a beauty juxtaposed in the disparity and poverty of this “modern” 3rd world country, and one I have come to love. His glory is everywhere - in all that is beautiful by the worlds standards and all that is not; I see Christ in every face and every smile of the Filipino people… and I’m humbled by the blessing and privilege it is simply to share life with them exactly where they are at.
I pray that God will utilize my time here for His utmost glory and enable me to serve Him and the people here in whatever ways He asks of me. I thank God for each of you daily – for your partnership in prayer – for your continual support – and for your encouragement as I navigate my way through the piloting of this new ministry! It is such a blessing to have each of you by my side as I go. Please continue to pray for strength and discernment as I have many meetings and big decisions to make, pray for smooth adjustments into the culture and solid relationships to be built within the church, and pray that God would burdened the hearts of the Filipinos for the issue of trafficking within their communities and call them to respond.
Love you all and pray that you be blessed with His immeasurable love. In Christ,