Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Short-term Mission

At the beginning of March I was given the opportunity to help staff a one-week short-term trip to Cagayan de Oro. A group of students from Benedictine University in the United States came all the way to the Philippines to work with and serve the victims of the typhoon Sendong in CDO. The week was packed with activities. I want to share a little about what we did.

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.

Sharing testimony about Grandmom

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.

Volunteer doctor.

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.

Tent city.

Getting water at tent city.

Bubble time with the kids.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Malaybalay Ministries

I feel like when we landed in Manila, we hit the ground running. I have been in Malaybalay for a little over a month and God has provided us with plenty to do. Our first week here, we spent three days at a Diocesan Assembly. The next week we attended a Catholic teachers meeting, as well as an assembly for the Ang Buhing Pulong community. Lindsey and Sammy renewed their vows at a pre-Valentines day party and Rebekah and I karaoke-d at a pre-Valentines day party for the singles of the community. We have been busy meeting people, learning the city, settling into our house, and starting ministry.

About three weeks after we got here, Father Vir gave us our assignments at San Isidro college. Sammy is working with the guidance counselors, Lindsey is working in the research and development office, Rebekah in the religious formation office, and I am working in the school's clinic. I am excited to be able to observe closely what the nurses do and to help in whatever ways I can. I was already able to pray with some of the sick students who came in. The clinic is not only for the college, but also the grade school and high school. I am looking forward to the ways God is going to use me, and also to get a little experience.

Two weeks ago, the whole team was giving the opportunity to speak at a mini-retreat about self esteem for the school. Sammy and Lindsey spoke in the morning, and Rebekah and I in the afternoon. If you know me at all, you probably know that it is not my favorite to stand up in front of people and speak, but God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called. For the mini-retreat, I shared my testimony for about 100 college students. Right up until I shared, I couldn't breathe because I was so nervous, but once I got behind the podium, God took over. Who knows? Maybe I'll do it again. :)

Sometime either before the mini-retreat we shared at, or after, we visited San Isidro's partner community, Isla Bonita. It is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. I think I said that about Malaybalay, but as we discover more of the city, we stumble upon more and more splendor. I am thankful that God had me in the desert last year and the land of life this year! Back to Isla Bonita. It is several acres of land where squatters are living. These people were told that they own their land, because they paid a certain amount of money, but they do not own their land. San Isdro is partnering with them and has started a few projects like,livelihood, literacy, catechism classes, and a few other things I cannot remember right now.

We have started going on our own to Isla Bonita to build relationships with the people and through building relationships, we hope to learn what their needs are and share Jesus with them. Just today, we visited a few houses. Rebekah and I visited two houses. Cecille, her son, and a few of his friends, and also Geraldine's house. We made small talk and prayed with them. It was a wonderful start!

After a few visits to Isla Bonita we were invited to one of the livlihood meetings with some of the women living there. A few teachers from San Isidro taught the ladies how to make pillows to sale. They also taught the ladies how to make rugs and pot holders. The college is selling these things for the ladies. It is a start, but has a long way to go.

Things have been very busy, but so wonderful! I am challenged by the fast pace, but enjoying it. I am looking forward to the many other things God has in store for this team! Hope you've enjoyed this blog. More to come soon!!!!