Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Intelligence + Character = The Goal of True Education

Our DVBS (Daily Vacation Bible School) in Olongapo, Philippines

Dear friends & family,

Here in the Philippines, the kids are currently enjoying their vacation from school until mid-June. The beginning of the school year also marks the beginning of rainy season. During the increasingly hot months before the cooling rains, my team always travels to various rural and urban communities to run a Daily Vacation Bible School (i.e., "Christian Summer Camp") for the kids. Last week I took time off langauge school to assist my friends with the DVBS in a rural area of Olongapo (a 4-hour commute from Manila). We partnered with a church there to provide an enriching and engaging program for kids ages 4-12 in the community. 

During the opening ceremonies of the DVBS,
the kids led a parade through the streets of their town.
A banner inviting each and every chid in the community
to join our DVBS program hosted by "Balikatan Church".
Standing in the entrance of their small but inspiring church.
My home is the city, but my soul longs after these rural provinces!
Our very own Tin Tin was the MC of the DVBS.
One of the reasons why we travel to other communities to host these DVBS programs is to train the youth in their churches to organize and run their own children's programs. In Olongapo, five young workers of the church assisted us in teaching and running the program. Prior to the first day of the DVBS, we held an orientation for those workers to get acquainted with the schedule, songs, and activities. Each evening, we devoted a few hours for debriefing and prayer with the workers. By the end of the DVBS, we were so encouraged by their growth. Even they were amazed at how much they had learned about teaching, leading, and inspiring young children. Consistent with the old saying that advises to "teach a man to fish" (rather than giving him a fish), we successfully equipped the church to lead children's programs without relying on us in the future. In other words, we chose to "teach a man to teach", as opposed to simply running the program ourselves and moving on to the next community. Although it takes a little more time and effort, we know this is the best approach with the future of the community in mind. We pray that for generations to come, their humble little church can continue to run such programs that nurture within their children a strong sense of self-esteem, faith, and trust in God.

The DVBS program included story-telling...
...prayer and worship. 
I've never before seen kids pray quite like this.
We witnessed a real faith in children that cannot be denied.
These children pray with simple and genuine sincerity.
I was blessed just to be a part of the program.
I also had the opportunity to sing the Philippine national anthem.
My main role at the DVBS was to lead the activity center. This was great practise for my Tagalog. At the same time, I offered the youth many opportunities to lead the activity themselves. I adopted the role of a mentor to them - encouraging them and offering advice on how to manage the children's behaviour while simultaneously keeping them active and engaged in the learning.

April (one of the youth at the church) really cares for these kids,
carefully picking for lice after the day's program has already ended.
Raymond fills a bucket with water for a bath. Us boys slept in a
church without running water, so this is how we got our water for bathing.
Summer camp is a place where friendships are strengthened!

On the last day of the DVBS, we held a "Graduation Ceremony" complete
with certificates, awards, and special numbers. No program in the Philippines
is officially complete without a graduation. Children wore their finest (or only)
dress and/or favourite outfit, and we invited parents to enjoy the celebration.
We opened the festivities with this dance number. Enjoy the video!

In other news, I just completed another written and oral exam in language school this week. It went great, thanks to God's guidance! I'm also excited to spend the next three days at a Youth Camp for our own church. I was asked to be one of the counselors. I see this as my chance to build stronger relationships with the youth in our church (as most of my work has been with children), and also of course to further develop my Tagalog skills. Immediately after camp, my team and I will fly to another island in the Philippines to do a mission trip in a place called Ilo-Ilo for seven days. We are excited to partner with local doctors to run a medical mission, and also to run various outreach programs for the children and families there. Please pray for my team with those events. We will return from Ilo-Ilo on June 3.

God bless, and continue being a blessing to others!



  1. Such earnestness on those sweet little praying faces!

  2. This is so beautiful. I'm a 12 year old Filipina and this inspires me very much. Thank you. You are really great. I want to meet you someday. You are truly God's gift. God bless you always! :)