"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 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.
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.