Sunday, April 22, 2012

What More Could a Girl Want?

Me and sleeping Neilbryan
While preparing for this blog post, I was looking at pictures from the last month and a half I couldn't help but smile.  I am the luckiest girl in the world to have this life.  God has blessed me so much by calling me to be His missionary.  Not only am I seeing things that I never thought I would see and visiting places I never dreamed of visiting, but I’m also doing things I never thought I could do.  As He stretches my heart and calls me to do more things that I am afraid to do, the closer I feel Him and the more I feel His love.  His love touches me so deep in my heart and fills me completely.  His love fills all the wholes in my heart and heals all the hurts of my past.  Here in the city of Malaybalay, He is healing my heart, making me whole, content, joyful and free.  I feel as though right now I am glowing because He lives inside of me.  This is the joy that the bible talks about and the freedom that Jesus promises.  Joy and freedom can only be found in Him.  Now that I spilled my guts on you, I'll share my day!

This morning Susanna, the Romeros, and I (I miss you Rebekah!) met up with Nanay Mayette and went to church at San Roque, the chapel in Casisang (the burangay I live in).  Nanay Mayette asked us if we could help to lead the youth group there.  Before coming to the Philippines Joseph (the director of our company) asked us to do anything that Father Vir asked us to and anything that Nanay Mayette or Tito Mawi asked us.  We said yes to the youth group.  This morning we met the youth and all shared a little about ourselves.  In the past when someone handed me a microphone I would get clammy and so nervous.  Now it doesn't faze me. I told the youth a little about how I came to be a missionary and shared about my mission in Mexico.  The others shared as well.  We asked them what time would work for them to meet.  Starting next Sunday we will meet at 10 for our first gathering.

The kids with the rabbits :)
This afternoon Lindsey was starting her first meeting with the women of Isla Bonita.  God put it on her heart a few weeks ago to start a group for wives and mothers in Isla Bonita.  We all met at the Diocesan Pastoral Center.  The women met in one gazebo and Susanna and I took all the kids to the another gazebo far away from their mothers so that they wouldn't cry.  We brought blank sheets of paper and crayons for the kids to draw.  After we had been there a while a few of the kids wanted to go by the rabbit cage to feed the rabbits grass.  I was so excited to go with them because as a child my grandmother (Grandmom) had bunnies every Easter and we would feed them too.  It brought back really good memories.  Shortly after that the kids started playing some sort of running/chasing game.  As I reflect on the day, I remember laughter and the kids shouting with glee.  It was a delightful day!

ALS we did, and MORE!

Forgive me for not posting yesterday.  We had a brown out at night and when the lights came back on I was way too tired to get on the Internet!  Thanks for understanding!  This is yesterday's post.

Another marathon mission day.  God is so good to give us so much work.  I love ending the day feeling exhausted from working hard to spread the Gospel!  Our day started at seven when we got up to get ready.  Susanna and I left the house by 7:55 for our ALS class in Isla Bonita.  Today was going to be my first time ever to teach.  I was nervous and not nervous at the same time.  I was going to be teaching ages seven to fourteen and Susanna was going to be teaching ages twenty-one and above.  There was a misunderstanding with the 21 and above students from last week and only one person showed up, our friend Christine.  Susanna is only teaching the 21 and above students every other Saturday and an official ALS teacher is teaching the Saturday Susanna doesn't teach.  Last week when Lizelle (the ALS teacher) said she wasn't going to be back until May 5th the students thought they wouldn't have class until then, like I said small misunderstanding.  Susanna was out of a job, so I asked her to help me with the kids.

Susanna with some of our students.
We started the class with a prayer and sang a song.  Once the kids were settled down they copied the vocabulary words I had written on the board and a few math problems.  They worked the math problems and I realized that today we would be working on subtraction with borrowing.  Many of them didn't know how to borrow.  Susanna gave a great lesson about borrowing mangoes and mongos (a type of bean here) to explain how to borrow in subtraction.  Susanna is a great teacher and I have a few skills to learn from her.  My strength is working one on one with the kids.  Praise God I have many Saturdays to get better and better at teaching!   When it was time to leave one of our friends Joemar asked if we both wanted to ride on his motorcycle.  Sue said no, but I wanted to ride because I've never ridden a motorcycle in the Philippines (I'm all about experiencing new things (: ).  Sue walked home and I rode on the motorcycle.  We had a few hours at home before returning with the Romeros to help with catechism/bible stories with the kids.

Lindsey and Christanne telling the story.
Lindsey and Sammy prepared to teach on David and Goliath and show a Veggie Tales movie about the same thing.  When we made it to Isla Bonita, Sammy and I set up the sheet over the chalk board for our screen for the movie.  Sammy also set up the projector and computer.  Once all of the kids arrived we said a prayed and sang a few songs with hand motions.  (Everyone in the Philippines loves to sing!)  After that Lindsey shared the story on David and Goliath and our friend Christanne interpreted.  God always sends us an interpreter when we need one!  The kids were really into the story.  Lindsey and Christanne asked questions after the story and the kids eagerly answered.  They had paid attention.  We watched the movie and then colored a David and Goliath coloring sheet.  We ended the day with snacks and a prayer.

I was more than happy to fall into bed exhausted from a long day of working with kids and teaching them about God!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Prep Day

Most of today was spent at home.  Tomorrow we have the ALS class in the morning so today Susanna, Lindsey, and I prepared to teach.  I am going to be teaching kids ages 7-13 tomorrow and I am excited but a little nervous.  I have never taught before.  I prepared some addition and subtraction worksheets with double digits and a reading comprehension worksheet.  I hope all goes well tomorrow!  Susanna is going to teach the 21 and above class tomorrow.  She is right in her element; she loves to teach.  Lindsey and Sammy will be teaching kids catechism and bible stories in the afternoon.  The other activities of the day were grocery shopping, Visaya lessons, cooking dinner, and more preparations for tomorrow.

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

So Little Time, So Much to Do

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few." Matthew 9:37

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


So, today Rebekah, my mission partner, left for the United States. Susanna, my other mission partner, brought her to the airport. Her sister is getting married, so she will be spending a few weeks with her family. I promised her that while she was gone, I would post how the days are going and what we've been up to.

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

What can $15 do?

This morning in my prayer time I asked God to lead me today and to place people in my path that I could pray for and help. Since Mondays are the day that the Romeros and Rebekah talk to their families, Susanna and I have a little down time in the morning. In the afternoon we plan for our week. This morning right before we started our community prayer, we had a visitor, our friend Cherry. She and her son Neilbryan (6 months) came for a visit. They joined us for family prayer. Before praying Cherry told us that Neilbryan is still sick. He has been coughing for weeks now. She needed to go to the doctor.

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!