Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sweet Agape

This week at the student center, I met a girl whose name was Sweet Agape. Isn't that beautiful? I have a feeling I will remember the name much longer than I will the face.

We have been in Rizal, a province where the new YLSC is all week but we are back in Manila for the weekend, so I have access to the internet! I'm having a hard time sleeping tonight and for some reason one phrase keeps going through my mind over and over. My heart beats for things I can't see and breaks for things I can. I'm sure I've heard that somewhere sometime before, but I can't remember where. And I don't know if I've ever REALLY thought about it, and I definitely know that it's never been true in my life. But I keep thinking about how true it really is. Our world is so full of things that break my heart. When I'm home, I see greed and selfishness and people who are without hope and who are broken-I see people here who seem hopeless and broken, too, but they face completely different struggles everyday-they find themselves needing food and clean clothes. It's heartbreaking, and if I dwelt on it, it might be more than I could handle. Oh...but then I think of the things my heart beats for-I think of Who I was created to praise and the hope that brings, and even though I can't see these things, I hope for them, and I wait for them, and I know them to be true!

I know that wasn't really an update of what's been happening, but it's what's keeping me awake when I should be sleeping, so there you go...

Anyway, we were moved to another location this week. It is a brand new student center, so Monday there were only about a dozen students or so. We spent the week walking around the town to the colleges and handing out flyers and magazines and inviting them to the center. Something must of worked because by Thursday, there were 86 students who signed in! This was such an encouragement for us because every student who comes in and goes through orientation to become a member, we get to share the gospel with. So if nothing else, they are exposed to it then-after that, they have the opportunity to come to the weekly programs or get involved in growth groups. They have options that were unavailable to them last week, and that's exciting to me! I spent the week just trying to get to know students and playing uno and doing a puzzle and teaching them new, loud (of course) games. One of our main goals, aside from witnessing, is just trying to get the students excited about the center so that there will be a foundation built. I can already see God doing that and it's amazing to watch!

Every morning we have a bible study time with the lady who is over the center, Naynay Jo (naynay means momma). She is an absolutely amazing woman of God, but we are talking about the characteristics of God and how we are called to imitate these and develop them in our own lives. She has so much wisdom by just picking this as our first topic to study. She knows that we are probably a little uncomfortable with the language barriers and cultural differences and a little homesick and it would be easy to start counting the days till we see our families again, but she also knows that we were called here, and we have a much larger purpose and if we are to be effective in our ministry, we must develop love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Or at least that's what I'm getting from it.

My trip is already half-way over. God has been teaching me so much. It's amazing how getting out of your comfort zone a little will force you to grow...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rice, rice, rice...

I've already learned so much in my first week here. One is that my feet are never clean. It doesn't matter what I do. The poverty is so extreme here that the streets are filthy. Driving around Manila and seeing the conditions some of these people live in is heart-wrenching. Some of them live in the shanties with nothing but an old couch and a tarp covering it. It leaves you with a very helpless, yet extremely thankful attitude. If nothing else, it reminds me how I don't deserve what I have, an what I "have" isn't mine anyway. We really are lucky to live where we do, yet having more somehow seems to breed wanting more and an overall dissatisfaction in a lot of Americans that I have yet to see here...I find it really odd.

On a much happier note-today was our first Sunday services here! It was absolutely amazing! The feeling of their worship service is something completely different to what I'm used to. Tonight we traveled to an opening of the new student life center for the church I'm working with, and after a 2 hour car ride, Kaitlyn and I were thoroughly car sick and facing the overly hot room and crowded service made us a little...unexcited? But you can't help but feel the sincerity of every word they speak and in every song we sing. And before I know it, I'm singing How Great is Our God in a room full of Filipino people, half way across the world, and I felt the enormity of my God like I never have. Seriously, how great is our God? had a small glimpse of how small I am in realizing how people all over the world have this same one on one relationship with my Father that I cherish so much...It's humbling to think about. The word that any younger girl calls any older female is ate (sounds like ah-tay) but it means big sister and Kuya, which means big brother. I find this so cool for some reason. All of these girl running around yelling Ate Bekah! Ate Bekah! It's just another small way that shows we're all connected...

There are so many stories that I want to tell, but I'll only tell a couple. We had Sportsfest yesterday for the kids at the church. At first, they literally ran from us when we tried to talk to them, but we eventually won them over-and let me tell you, when you win them over, you WIN them over. They want to know everything about you!

This is one of my favorite pictures so far! This is Darlin :) She is adorable and our new friend. She likes to show up at our door, too. This is her in our laundry basket! We love her!

Ok last thing. Filipinos eat some seriously strange things. But Kirby, Kaitlyn, and I decided to try what they serve us, no matter what. Well, they gave us this tonight, and no one would tell us what it was until after we ate it.

Ok I'm going to type the exact thing that Ren wrote out.
Papaitan-goat guts with meat and bile for a bitter taste.
It was without a doubt the most disgusting thing I have ever put in my mouth, even before I knew what it was!

Tomorrow is the Filipino independence day, so we are taking a day off to go to the beach. We start doing the work we came to do on Tuesday. I am so excited to work with the college students here in Manila!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Culture Shock!

It's the morning of my third day in Manila. We're all settled in our little loft above the church. We're on the fifth floor. Many of the buildings are half-outside, half-inside, so this is our view off of the balcony.

Notice our bathrooms on the right-they're much different than I'm used everything else here. We're adjusting. The only other white person we've seen is the missionary who is helping us. I don't think I'll ever get used to being stared at this much. You can just feel eyes on you everywhere you go.

The college students start on Tuesday, so right now we're just getting used to everything. We did meet a few of the leaders, and they are all so friendly! Everyone in the Philippines smile all the time! So they laugh and joke and tease all the time. They are very accepting and curious and blunt, so they ask all kinds of questions. I'm so excited for Tuesday to come and we can start hanging out in the student life center on a regular basis! The missionary told us at orientation that about 3% in the city of 2.8 million are born again believers. It's a little overwhelming, but the odds are in our favor. We're also going to be able to actually go into the colleges with the missionary sometimes, so we won't just have to wait for them to come to us in the center, but we can go to them, too!

Last night, we were talking to 2 sisters at the church, and they were asking about how things were at home, and I told her where I grew up, I could only see one house. And she said, "Oh! That is so scary." It made me laugh, considering that we have to put valuables in the smallest pocket and hold it close to us so that our bags or clothes don't get slit by snatchers! Different perspectives...

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Is this weird to anyone but me? I leave Arkansas on June 6th; I arrive in the Philippines June 8th. That's a lot of time.

In between packing and playing spades with my sister and my parents today, I was googling the islands. The country is made up of 7,107 islands. 7,107!!! I sincerely hope that I'm going to explore some of what is in the picture above. I could hardly sleep last night I was so excited...and I fear tonight will be much the same.

We are working at the University Baptist Church, which is in the center of the University belt. Most of the church is made up by the students who attend the colleges surrounding it. College age there is 15-20. The way I understand it, we will be acting almost as interns to the church. We will be working with the church on Sunday and Wednesday, and the other days we will be working in the community center building relationships and evangelizing to the students who come in. There are 3 campus's, so we will be traveling quite a bit between the three. The first week we get there (3 days from now :))) we will be working with the children camp-I don't really know what that means, but I'm excited because I assume that means I get to play with kids!

The trip isn't planned out day by day; there is a flexible schedule with main goals, and I think that's great. That allows us to be receptive to where God wants us to be and what He wants us to do. I am beyond excited! Hopefully, I'll get there and it won't be anything like I expect. Then maybe I won't get in His way as much.

Oh yeah and it's big. Pray I don't get lost.
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