Tuesday, October 2, 2012
It has been a little over two months since my last blog post, and while I wanted to write in the last two months, I couldn't make the time. Things were so busy and when I finally had a moment, writing was the last thing on my mind. But, I have returned!
In case you didn't know, I have returned to the States. I felt the Lord calling me back to the States probably two months ago. It was very hard to say good-bye to my home in Bukidnon. As I was making the 32 hour trek back to the other side of the world, my time in Bukidnon felt like a distant dream. I know that it wasn't.
My time across the world in Bukidnon was the most real experience I've had. It was a time of complete surrender; a time of saying yes to the Lord, no matter the cost. Two years ago, before going on my first mission trip, I prayed asking the Lord if it was His will. I felt Him say, "You need to go on this mission to learn what love is." In my two years of missions I have begun to discover what true love is. It is not a romantic candle-lit dinner with the man of my dreams (although maybe one day!) but a constant emptying of self to those around me, only to be filled back up by my Creator. It is tirelessly proclaiming the Gospel, and when necessary using words. It is going above and beyond what is expected just so someone else can experience the love of the Lord. It is a constant emptying and constant filling. Love is an exhaustingly beautiful thing and at the end of the day, always worth it.
The Lord gave me my heart back in Bukidnon. He gave me wonderful friends that challenge me with the way they live their lives. He has given more joy in the last eight months than I've had in a long time. Missions is the greatest gift the Lord has ever given me and it will not end with Bukidnon. My career as a missionary is just beginning! Be in prayer with me as I discover the new mission God has for me!
Sunday, July 29, 2012
|My favorite mission partner and I waiting at the port for the boat.|
|SSME standing in front of a volcano.|
|Prayer meeting at a bario.|
|Talking with Melody at a small village in the jungle.|
|Ahh...come Holy Spirit!|
Thursday, May 24, 2012
That is how I have been starting my days off this week. I cannot even begin to tell you all of the amazing things God has done this week so I will walk you through my day to give you a glimpse.
Today started at 5 am. Rebekah and I packed skirts, one water bottle, our power bill and just enough money to pay the bill in a small backpack. We jogged, -Rebekah jogged, I mostly walked- to the Cathedral in town for 5:45 mass. Once we arrived and sat down I said a little prayer, "God, I'm really hungry, could you provide me with some food?"
Mass finished and I went to the sacristy to ask the priest if he could hear my confession. On my way I ran into one of our friends Thelma. Susanna and I had met her a month ago. When we first met her she told us about this sickness she has. She poured out her struggles for the last few years with her sickness. It has caused her to loose one of her eyes. When Sue and I met her, we prayed with her. This morning when I saw her she seemed a little sad. We started talking and she said she was receiving results from a MRI and she was terrified. We prayed right then. As I prayed, "Come Holy Spirit." I felt something come over me and the words I was saying weren't mine. They were God's. I felt God say, "Ask me for a miracle of healing. I can do it!" We prayed for a miracle and as we prayed Thelma shook with tears. Once we were done, she had a peace about her. I know that God is going to provide that miracle so I'll update you when I hear the news.
So once I made my way to the sacristy, Father was baptizing three kids. I got to witness that as well. Three sacraments in one day and it was only merely 6:45. Wow! After Father Gill heard my confession, we started talking about missions. He ask,"Will you and your friend -Rebekah- join me for breakfast?" God heard my prayer before mass about being hungry and answered it. When I told Rebekah about it, she was a little worried about time because we had to pay our power bill, but decided we should just go with it.
We had great conversation over breakfast, and after Father Gill said, "Can I give you a ride home?" We said sure. We mentioned we needed to pay our power bill and he said he would take us there first. Normally it takes about a half hour to pay the bill because of the wait in line and that is normally at 7:30 when the place opens. We arrived at 8 and it took us maybe 15 minutes in line. God is so good. Father Gill then drove us home.
When we got home, I was really sleepy and God rearranged the schedule so I could take a nap. I had planned my day last night. I had planned on going on home visits this morning after morning prayer, leaving the house at 10. Those plans got moved to the afternoon. Rebekah and I packed three sacks of food, a bible, an umbrella, and a basket of eggs from Father Gill (I forgot to mention that at breakfast he gave a basket of fresh eggs and a watermelon to take home.) We had planned on visiting a young woman named Jane first. We started our walk to Isla Bonita (where we do most of our home visits) and said a prayer, "Come Holy Spirit. Lead us to who YOU want us to visit." We arrived at Isla Bonita and I B-lined to the house I thought was Jane's. It turned out to be the house of our friend Pem Pem. We visited with her parents and found out that her dad drives a motorella (the Filipino taxi). We prayed with them, read a passage from the bible, and left them a few eggs.
We visited a few other people and then headed to Guisano (it's like Wal-mart, but three stories!) to buy a blinder a some ingredients for a chicken soup. When it was time to go, we walked to the place to catch a motorella and guess who was there! Phem Phem's Edgar father who we had "accidentally" visited earlier. We hopped into his motorella and he gave us a ride home. When we arrived I reached into my pocket for the twenty pesos to pay him. He wouldn't accept it. He said, "Maybe next time." Really? Two free rides in one day! Again, wow!
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
|Me and sleeping Neilbryan|
|The kids with the rabbits :)|
|Susanna with some of our students.|
|Lindsey and Christanne telling the story.|
Friday, April 20, 2012
As the sun was setting tonight, the lights decided to go out. Brown out. I cooked dinner and made name tags by candle light. Can you imagine me upstairs with tea lights surrounding me and my little book light trying to see the poster board I was cutting. I was afraid I was going to catch the poster board on fire. Luckily everything turned out okay and the lights are back on in time for bed. Everything is packed for tomorrow and now all is left is to fall asleep.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Today I was able to sleep in until 8:45. It was such a blessing. God knew I would need the extra sleep for the busy day He had planned. Lindsey was going to our friend Babe's house to plan for her women's group that will start on Sunday and I was planning on meeting her there at 10:00 to go to Isla Bonita with them. I wanted to do a few home visits while we were at Isla Bonita. During my prayer time this morning two ladies were on my heart, so I decided that those were the ladies I would visit. I packed two dispensas (sacks of food) in my backpack and walked to Babe's house.
Once we were all together we walked to Isla Bonita. (I am loving all of the exercise I get here by walking places. It is nice sometimes to not have a car!) As we got closer to Ilsa Bonita, I ran into a guy that I met at a meeting I attended a few weeks ago. His name is JoeMar and he was a seminary. We talked for a little while and then invited him to our bible study. (We have a bible study every Thursday evening at 5 at our place.) He said he could come. I think it was a "Divine Appointment" that God set up. Anyways, we continued to Isla Bonita.
As we arrived so did my friend Annalee. She was the first lady I wanted to visit, so she invited me into her home. She has 6 children, with her youngest being two year old twin girls. We visited for a short while, shared about life, read the bible and talked about God, and prayed together. This is my favorite ministry, just being able to sit down with people one-on-one, and form relationships. I left her with a dispensa and walked over to my friend Geraldine's house. Geraldine also invited me into her home and we visited just like Annalee and I visited. I am so thankful that these ladies just open their lives to me and all of the missionaries.
From the last few weeks of visiting Isla Bonita and getting to know the people there more and more, we are seeing exactly what the needs are. Many of our friends don't have running water, electricity, and are have hard times in their marriages. The ministries we currently have there are home visits a few times a week, ALS (Alternative Learning System) classes on Saturday mornings (ALS is a program for people to get their GED), Catechism classes/bible stories for kids on Saturday afternoons, and a women's bible study/prayer meeting on Sunday afternoons. I feel that God is calling us to do more and more with the beautiful people here and I am so happy that He has let us to this place.
Okay, back to today. After our time at Isla Bonita (actually Lindsey and Babes left before me), I walked home to relax for a little while. The sun was really strong and I was tired from all the walking so I was looking forward to sitting down and resting for a moment. I was home for about 30 minutes when Lindsey said she needed to go to town. I decided to go with her because I had many errands to run. We were on a mission to find a place to print out the materials we needed for the bible study we had tonight because it was a brown out (sometimes they come at the most inconvenient times!) We finally found a place, printed the worksheets out, and looked for a place to buy snacks. We found snacks and hurried home to get ready for the bible study.
Sammy led the study tonight and shared on Luke 9:18-26 where Jesus asks, "Who do you say that I am?" vs 20. JoeMar came as well as six others. The discussion was very deep and people really opened up and shared. I feel as though God is doing big things in the hearts and lives of those who are coming. Several of our friends that attended stayed around for hours just talking a hanging out. We actually invited many of them for dinner. We had nine plates around the table and had to eat in shifts because we don't have that many chairs! It was so good to have friends over, sharing the word of God, and just really visiting and getting to know one another better. At around 9:30 we said good bye to our last visitors and ended the night with community night prayer.
When I was in training in Louisiana a year and a half ago, Mr. Frank said he would pray that he and Mrs. Genie would fall into bed at night exhausted from working for God's kingdom. I can proudly say that tonight, I am falling in bed exhausted from working hard for God's kingdom today! It is such a marvelous feeling knowing that I gave everything I had to give today for God and didn't hold back at all. I pray that I can surrender my life each day in the same way and fall in bed each night exhausted from working for God.
Randomness for the day:
Lindsey bought Anders (really Sammy) Lord of the Rings toys from a store here. One of the figures is fire that holds the ring. Sammy builds a wall with suitcases in our living room each day to keep Anders from going by the stairs. I tripped over the suitcases and my foot landed on the fire. It shattered, and I mean shattered! I didn't think it was possible for a plastic figurine to shatter that way. Only me and my clumsiness!
Hope you've enjoyed my day! God Bless!!
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Today was a long, slow day. We planned in the morning for awhile and then had a brown out. I was actually happy about the brown out because while I was praying I was preoccupied with the many things I needed to do, but because the electricity went out, I was forced to relax and work on something else. At three in the afternoon Sammy and I headed to the BEC. It was a smaller group this time; Tito Mawi and Nanay Mayette, Nanay Nini, and Sammy and me. Lindsey and the kids came at the end. The more I attend the BEC, the more I enjoy it.
For those of you who have no idea what a BEC is, it is a basic ecclesial community. We meet with our neighbors once a week to sing praise and worship, study scripture, pray together, and share life. I am realizing more and more how important it is to have community. I live in community, but having more community is always welcomed.
Randomness for the day:
The peanut butter we bought yesterday wasn't sealed and was also expired. The never-ending gas for our stove finally terminated, in the middle of Lindsey making spaghetti. Sammy had to go to Ate Jheanny's balay to get her spare gas. There was a worm-like bug in the bread so we had to get rid of it. I think that's all the randomness for today. Miss you already Beks!
Sunday, April 1, 2012
She joined us for our morning prayer and shared on the scripture we read: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Matthew 11:28-30. I couldn’t understand what she shared because it was in her dialect. She speaks a little English but is more comfortable speaking in her dialect. She took part in prayer with us and asked the Lord for the things she needs.
After prayer I took her to one of our friend’s (Tita Nida) clinics. She is a pediatrician. Once we got to the clinic Cherry said she had never been to a private practice physician. She said it is very expensive and she normally goes to the free clinic and has to wait all day. I could have let her go to the free clinic, but I wanted to make sure she received good care for her son. I wanted to make sure that he would be properly diagnosed. We waited for maybe ten minutes before the doctor saw us. Tita Nida diagnosed Neilbryan with asthmatic bronchitis. She prescribed him three medications. For the whole visit it cost $523 pesos. That is the equivalent to $12.45 USD.
When we finished at the Tita Nida's office, I told Cherry that we were going to take our snacks. She asked, "Are we going back to your house?" I said, "No, we are going some place special." I took her to our favorite place to eat, RE Cafe. I told her she could order whatever she wanted. She ordered rice, an egg, mini hot dogs, and coffee. I ordered a small snack. As she ate she couldn't stop thanking me for the doctor visit and now food. I would remind her that it was God who provided. Once she finished eating, she started drinking her coffee very rapidly. I told her we weren't in a hurry so she could take her time. She responded, "I don't want to keep you from the plans you have today." Basically she didn't want to be a burden. I affirmed her telling her that I wasn't busy. Monday is our day to plan for the week and I still had plenty of time to do that. Once we were done we came back to my house because she wanted to thank Sis Lindsey, Sis Rebekah, Sis Susanna, and Bro Sammy (that is what she calls us (: ). She visited for awhile just talking to us and sharing her experience with the doctor.
Cherry and her son Neilbryan
We have known Cherry for a month now. We have visited her at her house and seen her living conditions. She doesn't have running water or electricity. She lives in a very small shack with her husband and son. She never asks us for anything, she just wants our friendship. Each time we give, because the Holy Spirit compels us to, she is so thankful and cannot believe that she has friends like us. Last Sunday after attending the 4:00 mass at the Cathedral, guess who I saw! Cherry! I don't know if she was going to mass before we met her, but I felt like it was a fruit of our works. God is using us in real ways here and I am excited about what he is doing.
Through meeting Cherry, God is convicting me to the many ways that I choose not to give generously to the poor. He has blessed me with much, why shouldn't I share what He has given me? Some have said not to give money, or take people to the doctor, or to give people medicine. They think that people are cheating us and taking advantage of us. I take that advice with a grain of salt. I know that God has put me here to give to the least of these and to give without counting the cost. He has asked me to not judge others and assume the worst, but rather the best. He has asked me to be his hands and feet, and I am striving to do that each day. With that being said, I am not handing out money left and right. When the Holy Spirit compels me to, I give. Most of the time he asks me to give people prayer, food, and water; food for the body and food for the soul.
So what can $15 do? You can eat fast food for all your meals for a day or it can bring a baby to a good doctor, supply medicine, and provide a healthy lunch. I figured out that with only $5 which translates to $210 pesos, you can provide enough rice for a family for almost a week. God is showing me small ways to sacrifice the things I have or the things I want so that others can have more. I challenge you to look around and see the ways that you can sacrifice for others too!
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
One of the first things we did, as a group, was visit a site where 500 homes once were. The land was filled with debris without one house standing. As I walked around I saw pieces of toys, tile, and clothes scattered all over the ground. I cannot express the feeling I had inside knowing that so many people lost their lives, their family and everything they owned. It was truly eye opening.
During the week, we spent two days in a grade school. We visited 12 classes in total. About 90 percent of the kids were affected by the typhoon. Some of them lost their parents. We sang songs with them like “Father Abraham”. We shared simple testimonies and put on a small drama. We shared simple testimonies and put on a small drama.
Singing praise and worship.
We acted out the bible story of Jesus calming the storm. We had Jesus, three disciples, wind, waves, and an ocean. About six kids from each class would come to the front to be the waves and the rest of the students in their seats were the ocean. It was precious to see the kids get so into the drama. After reading and acting out the story, Rebekah shared about the story in the bible and made it relatable to these second grade students. She let them know that the disciples were afraid in the boat and it was okay if they were afraid when the storm came. She reminded them that they have a Father in Heaven who will never leave their side. She told them that when they are afraid they can pray to Jesus in Heaven and that he is always listening. After the story time, we passed out paper, color pencils, crayons, and markers, and asked the kids to draw a picture of them with Jesus.
Rebekah sharing bible stories.
Three days during the week, we spent time in the tent communities. The tent communities are where those who lost their homes are temporarily living. They will be living in tents for about a year. The tents are very simple and provide the families with some protection from the elements. On one of our visits, we put on a medical clinic. It has been my dream for awhile now to help out on a medical mission. I was given my chance. We found a doctor to volunteer services for an evening. We had someone donate a large amount of antibiotics. A pharmacist volunteered and another doctor. Rachel, a girl from the group, is a CNA and Mark, one of the leaders, was a paramedic at one time. Many of the students from the group are studying to go to medical school. They were all very enthusiastic to help with the clinic. I cannot tell you how many people the doctors were able to see. It must have been at least 100. I was able to go around while the patients were waiting to see the doctor and talk with each person and pray with them. I think that night was one of my favorite nights so far in my almost two years as a missionary.
The students helping with medication.
Mark taking vitals.
Rachel doing triage.
Our last night with the tent communities, we had a prayer meeting. We read the bible story of Jesus calming the storm for the kids, sang praise and worship, prayed together, preached, and ate dinner together. The holy Spirit was present in a tangible way. I could see Him on the faces of those raising up their hands to give praise to our Lord. I could hear Him in the voices of those singing praises. Heaven was so close that night.
When this trip was over, I had a new zeal for missions. God showed me many ways that I could serve in the city where I live. Although I look back and wonder, could I have done more, Jesus reminds me that, "whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:45
The school we shared at.
Bubble time with the kids.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
I’ve known for a month and a half for sure that I was going to the Philippines this year as my mission. I, being as stubborn as I am, was in denial and said things like, “Well I’ll go if God provides the funds.” not really wanting to fly across the world to a completely new culture. He provided in big ways, so I said yes. My real hesitation was that I knew how challenging and uncomfortable this year was going to be. This year I was really leaving everything behind for a whole year. It is such a long journey to the Philippines. I don’t want to travel it often nor could I afford to. This year I feel like I am really giving up everything.
We arrived at our new home on Friday the 3rd. The house is very simple, but very sturdy. It has three floors. The first floor you walk into from the front porch has a living room/dining room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. If you walk up five stairs on our spiral staircase (I’ve always wanted a spiral staircase in my house) you will see two rooms. As of right now Sammy, Lindsey, and the kids are in one room and Rebekah and I are in the other. From the main floor if you walk down three steps there is another big room that could be another living room and a bedroom off to the side. We are hoping to eventually use one of the rooms as a chapel. Right now we are trying to clean our house and get settled in. We are adjusting to the climate and sounds of our city. It seems so far with the climate, God has decided to give us paradise. It gets a little warm during the middle of the day, but there is always a cool breeze.
A few highlights since we’ve been here:
We didn’t have running water when we got here. We didn’t know how to flush our toilet and figured out that we have to pour a bucket of water into the bowl. We didn’t know where the grocery stores were, so our first full day here, Rebekah and I went on an adventure to find food. We found what we thought was tuna and some mayo to make tuna salad for the bread we already had. We also found some garbanza beans, bananas, oranges, an avacado, and chicken loaf. I picked out the chicken loaf and cannot figure out what possessed me to grab chicken loaf. There were other options. The only thing I can think of is I just read chicken and assumed it was like chicken in a can like tuna in a can. Our first meal was the tuna, bread, chicken spread (mayo), bananas, and oranges. When Rebekah opened the can of tuna she discovered that it was more like a tuna soup in a tomato base with potatoes. We laughed quite a bit with our cold soup straight from the can, bread, and fruit. Keep in mind we couldn’t quite get our stove to work yet. Sammy thought we were just kidding and really had another meal planned; we weren’t. When it came time for dinner we prepared the chicken loaf and had bread, avocado, garbanza beans, and oranges. Sammy decided we should “flame-kiss” the chicken loaf using a fork over the flame of our stove because we got it working. For the rest of the night we cracked jokes about the chicken loaf. I mean really what was I thinking? It was half bad though.
All in all our time here has been so blessed. We are meeting such wonderful people. We are slowly learning our way around. I am excited to learn what our ministries will be here. Please continue to pray for us. You are all in my prayers.