Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Role Models in My Life

Hi everyone!

Thanks again for taking the time to read my blog! The last couple weeks have been very exciting for me. The students in our daycare center have been very receptive to my lessons, and they're already making some progress in their literacy and numeracy skills.
They're also teaching me how to read and write - in Tagalog, that is. Tomorrow we'll be learning how to print our names and learning about colours (with some hands-on paint activities). Jared and I also enjoyed our first formal Tagalog lesson, and we're very impressed with the professionalism and teaching philosophies of our teachers.

While I could share more about what I've been up to, I hope you don't mind if for this entry I share some stories of others who have made much greater sacrifices in their work - and who inspire me immensely.

The first is a woman from my church named Yvonne. This week she travelled to Haiti to assist in a medical mission.
However, when the big earthquake went off, the Guest House were she was staying collapsed and trapped her within. She lost her life. As we pray for her family, we also admire her for the incredible sacrifice she gave in serving others in need.

Another inspiration of mine is a Filipino whom I serve alongside on my team here. His name is Pastor John Basiwa, but I call him "kuya" - or brother, in English. When he was in his early 20's, he left his job to serve the poor full-time (which primarily meant feeding street children and sharing his faith). He believed that serving the poor was God's call for his life. However, particularly in this culture, a young man is expected to earn an income and provide for his parents and family. As a result of his decision to answer God's call by providing for the poor, his parents kicked him out of their home and disowned him for "loving his God more than his family" - as they claimed. Nevertheless, Kuya John continued to spend each day feeding street children whose only previous role models were likely entrenched in gambling, alcoholism, and violence. Kuya John also provided a drop-in center for youth and adults who were addicted to sniffing solvents. At one point, after Kuya John had made a family and a home of his own, he was so dedicated to providing for others first that he sold his own house and lived in the drop-in center with no electricity with his wife and two kids. However, God has been faithful to Kuya John, and today his family has a house, his two children go to school, and his ministries with the urban poor are thriving. Also, Kuya John's parents have come to believe they were wrong in disowning him before, and they are very proud of his character and daily sacrifices. Every Tuesday and Thursday night, I have the honour of assisting Kuya John with his evening program for a squatter community...(on a side note, I mentioned before that this community was living under an overpass, but last week they were forced to move to a new location because the police were physically harassing them and pressuring them to leave).

Below is a picture of Kuya John and his wife - Ate (sister) Gela.

Gela and John Basiwa


  1. Good stuff Johnny! I'm taming you a wild honeymoon stallion for your return. Xoxoxo

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. (sorry typos above)

    Hey bud, hope it's all going good. These stories of these people are indeed inspiring (though they have their weight in sadness as well). Don't forget YOU are an inspiration as well! I feel I should do a mission more and more based on your exploits. The pics, especially the close ups of the kids' faces- are powerful. They carry a strong aura of despair mixed with hope.

  4. Ditto Double's comment :). You definitely are an inspiration!!! I definitely agree with you about kuya John... So sad though to hear about Yvonne, your church member! I was wondering about that, knowing you're from Elmira and there really isn't a huge huge community up there.

    Anyways, hope your Tagalog is getting better!