Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kanawan, Philippines - Still My Favourite Place in the World

"Magandang araw pamilya at mga kaibigan!" ("Good day family and friends!")

I've just returned from a 5-day trip to Kanawan - a remote tribal village amidst stunning mountains and jungles. There our team hosted our first DVBS of the year ("Daily Vacation Bible School", aka "Christian summer camp"). Over 100 children participated in the camp, and I'm so proud of my team for giving all their energy towards ensuring the kids had the time of their lives. We brought several Filipino youth from our church to assist us as counselors/teachers. For many of them it was their first exposure in missions. I was greatly encouraged by their own personal growth as young, new leaders!

The pastor of the community expresses his thanks for our team's presence there.

"Masarap na tinapay!" ("Delicious bread!")

The theme of the DVBS was entitled "Home Planet". The children learned to become leaders in taking care of our environment - our home! For instance, some of the activities included planting and tending to your own plant and cleaning up the community by collecting biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste. The kids gained a new appreciation for God's creation and had heaps of fun doing it. They enjoyed plenty of games, songs, stories, plays, and of course, food! They were also divided into teams, which helped them develop strong comradery, good sportsmanship, and social skills.

Cleaning up the community by picking up garbage.

Jolina collects seeds to grow a plant.

Teaching the kids how to make hand puppets.

The kids enjoy a nutritious meal at each break in our program.

The Kanawan trip offered incredible adventures and plenty of spiritually-uplifting encouragement for me too. Although we ran a Christmas party for the Kanawan kids in December, this trip was different because I could have actual conversations with the children now in Tagalog! Not only did we build relationships with the kids during the DVBS program, but at the end of each brutally hot day we went swimming with them in the river. In some odd way, I almost felt like a dad to the children as they would all hang from me when we were swimming and they would shout for me to watch them every time they did a jump or dive into the water from the surrounding cliff walls.

Ismael didn't have a lot to wear on the first day...besides his name tag!

On our last evening in Kanawan, the community held a great goodbye celebration for us. The experience was bittersweet. I was both blissful and broken-hearted to witness kids of all ages crying and hugging me tightly as they said bye. Even many of our team members shed tears upon our departure.

The kids perform presentations on "Graduation Day" of DVBS.

Both teachers and children cry as we say our goodbyes.

An unforgettable celebration on our last night in Kanawan.

I'm excited to spread the same joy in other communities in and around Manila in the upcoming weeks! Thanks for your support and encouragement through prayer and through following along with my activities.


  1. Another great blog post John. All the best.

  2. Your photos that accompany your postings are so beautiful. God bless you.