Hi there family and friends!
Sorry it's been a little while since I've had the chance to write! I just returned from a four-day mission to a place in the Philippines called Tiaong, Quezon Province. However, before I share about that, I want to share something else first that's really been weighing on my mind lately. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed with how I blessed I am that I have the opportunity to serve the poor in another country. I wonder if it would even be possible without all the support that I get both financially and prayerfully. I can't thank you enough for your support. Really, with all my heart, thank you!
What I want to share though is a much more powerful testimony than my own - and that is the testimony of the Filipinos I'm working alongside with. They are the ones who have literally given up everything to serve full-time. They serve without any financial support. They are the ones whose faith and resilience humble me each day. You've seen some them in my photos...Tin Tin, Toph, Cecile (in Sucat), etc, etc. Some of them are single mothers, some of them don't have a home of their own, and some of them go for days without eating, even as they feed the street children daily. Often humility and embarrassment keeps them from telling me about these realities about their lives, and they are too afraid to ask for help. But the truth is that they need financial help and support more than I do. Although they will have a great reward and a future in God, that doesn't mean they need to suffer now. So I'm asking if anyone of you has any spare income to share with these so deserving, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can give you more info and answer any questions about how you can help. Fifty dollars a month or less would make a great impact for these missionaries so they can take care of themselves and in turn take care of their ministries. They also have facebook and email so they would personally keep you informed and updated on their ministries. Also, as their stories from their point-of-view often go untold, I've helped one of them start her own blog that you can also check out here - tintinramos.blogspot.com
...back to what I've been up to...On the short-term trip to Tiaong that I just returned from, we brought a team of Filipino youth from four different churches in Manila to experience serving the poor in a different community. Most of these youth come from strained financial situations themselves, but they took initiative even in raising their own funds to support their transportation and food on the mission. I was also amazed how quickly everyone grew very close, and the unity that resulted allowed us to accomplish so much in just four days.
One of our tasks was a "beautification project". We divided our youth into four groups (one led by myself, another led by Jared), and we spent two days cleaning up the community from dawn until dusk. The attitude of humility and joyful willingness that I witnessed was a powerful testimony of what happens when people choose to give of themselves as servants. I was reminded of the story of Jesus washing the very feet of his closest followers as I witnessed pastors and leaders painting for hours under the hot sun, scrubbing toilets, and even trudging through mud to collect garbage.
One of the centers of this community is a small church led by a Filipino pastor and his wife from Manila. They are actually working part-time, and thus through the church they are able to aid the community through feedings for children, college scholarship programs for youth, and of course weekly services and activities. I know there are many people around the globe who are skeptical about the motives of the church, including it's effectiveness in helping the community, and I only pray that they could see the example of a church like this. Though this church is almost 10 years old, it still needed a lot of work. We helped out by painting it and providing some finishing touches on the construction.
Finally, on our last day we ran a program for the children in the community. Although most children there work in the rice fields all day on Saturday (because they don't have school that day), almost 100 kids came out. We taught several songs, played some games and activities, and provided a healthy meal. I was moved when one of the young girls gave me her craft to keep and told me that I could have it to remember her by.
Thanks again for reading! I'll just leave you with some pictures of the incredible scenery in Tiaong, Quezon Province...