November is coming to an end, and everyone here is buzzing with excitement for Christmas. In fact, Christmas music was playing in the malls when I first arrived at the beginning of November. My team (the YM or "Youth Mobilization" Team) is also very excited for the many Christmas parties we will run starting this week. We will be hosting these parties for the children in particularly impoverished communities, including communities that have been affected by the recent typhoon. On Monday, our team will go on a 3-day trip to some rural communities in Botolan and Kanawan...there we will have a medical mission and a few Christmas parties.
Here's an update on what I've been up to for the last week though. Each day, I commuted by bus to Alabang (which is a one-hour ride from my place in Makati...both places are part of Metro Manila). In Alabang, one of our sister teams under International Teams runs a ministry called IT Tender (led by Pastor John - who is the best friend of the leader of my team, Pastor Joshua). I was able to help out with their weekly routine.
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon we provided a healthy meal to the street children in the community. IT Tender also provides a program for them which typically includes songs, games, and bible lessons. Every Tuesday and Thursday night, a squatter community living underneath an overpass comes to the IT Tender Center. We enjoyed meals with them, along with songs and fellowship. They each also took turns having a bath in the washroom (their only opportunity for a proper bath). This week, IT Tender provided a three-day seminar for mothers in the community which taught cooking, hygiene tips, and family planning. A government worker from the nearby Health Center volunteered her time to come help teach the seminar. Every Thursday afternoon, the Tender team goes to a very poor squatter community and provides food and a program for the children. I had the opportunity to organize a game and lead a song in Tagalog with those children (...believe it or not, I memorized all the lyrics and guitar chords for my first Tagalog song! yes, I'm very proud of that). On Saturday we provided groceries for families affected by the typhoon. Although right after the typhoon, the government provided food for families that were displaced from their homes and who came to government-run shelters, but many families decided to stay in their flooded homes and weren't provided with any aid. Pastor John recognized this and decided to create this grocery plan for them (I was able to help him shop for the groceries and package them). FINALLY, on Sunday we took thirteen kids from Alabang to the Manila Zoo for the day, which was great fun not only for them, but for me too, :).
Here are some pics from those experiences for you to enjoy...
A father and daughter from the squatter community living under an overpass who came to enjoy a meal, a bath, and some fellowship.